I think I am a truly awful writer. “No, no!” I hear my fan cry, a lone voice in a welter of disinterest. Satire is the last refuge of moral cowardice and although I wear its white feather with, if not pride, a certain carefully constructed and entirely false modesty, there are those more luminous than I who drape themselves in a positively overwhelming feather boa of white, like enthusiastic Gay Pride participants. David Sedaris is a case in point. Sedaris is Garrison Keillor’s evil twin: like him, Sedaris focuses on the icy patches that tend to trip one up on life’s treacherous sidewalks, though the ice in his work is much more slippery and the falls much more spectacularly funny than in Keillor’s. Many of his short essays which appeared originally in the New Yorker, Esquire and elsewhere deal with his father, Lou, which leads me to suppose that In order to be successful one must have had a spectacularly dysfunctional childhood. We have all come across a “Lou”. Lou is a micromanager who tries to get his uninterested children to form a jazz combo and, when that fails, insists on boosting David’s career as a performance artist by heckling him from the audience. Sedaris suggests that his father’s punishment for being overly involved in his kids’ artistic lives is David’s brother Paul, otherwise known as “The Rooster,” a semi-literate ne’er-do-well whose language is outrageously profane. Sedaris also writes about the time he spent in France and the difficulty of learning another language. I think I know how he felt. After several extended stays in a little Norman village and in Paris, Sedaris had progressed, he observes, “from speaking like an evil baby to speaking like a hillbilly. ‘Is thems the thoughts of cows?’ I’d ask the butcher, pointing to the calves’ brains displayed in the front window.” But in English, Sedaris is nothing if not nimble: in one essay he goes from his cat’s cremation to his mother’s in a way that somehow manages to remain reverent to both of the departed. “Reliable sources” have told Sedaris that he has “tended to exhaust people”. One reviewer spewed his pastrami sandwich all over his desk after reading a Sedaris essay, in fits of almost incontinent mirth. I wonder if they say the same about me. I think I’d take it as a compliment.
The title of this post has no relevance to anything whatsoever.