Posted by: GeekHiker | August 20, 2008

I Am So Un-Hip

On one of my recent group hikes, someone recommended the author David Sedaris. I’d heard of him, of course; whenever a new book of his comes out the bookstore near my workplace is flooded with them, dozens of copies lining the shelves and seeming to take over the “new releases” table entirely.

People in my age group always seem to get very excited when he has a new book out. It’s not uncommon to see a large crowd form over at the bookstore when he shows up for a signing. And so it was that I started to think, between the hiker recommendation and the lines of my peers, I should check this whole thing out.

So I headed to a local library, picked up a copy of “Naked”.

Obviously there is something wrong with me. I’m completely un-hip. I chuckled a few times, but for the most part, the book didn’t do much for me. Maybe I’m missing something, but I was underwhelmed.

Oh, sure, the jacket notes promised much. The New York Times said “sidesplitting”. The New York observer claimed to be “laughing so hard that it hurts”. The Portland Oregonian claims “sustained bursts of humor”.

Honestly, though, I only found a few laughs throughout the book. Maybe I’m just not wry enough, but for the most part, it all seemed a bit tragic. In fact the best written chapter, in my opinion, was “ashes”, which was the least funny of any in the book.

Still, if someone has a better book of his in mind, I’m willing to consider trying him again. It was a quick read, at least.

Okay, Sedaris-lovers, comment (or flame, as you will) away…



  1. The first Sedaris book I read was Me Talk Pretty One Day. I read it on an overnight flight and annoyed my fellow passengers by laughing out loud every few seconds. I read all his stuff and just crack up. A little while ago I gave Me Talk Pretty One Day to Mr. Dingo to read. He didn’t crack a smile. I can’t explain why the two of you are weird.

  2. I love Sedaris on the radio but don’t quite grok him in print.

    The last laugh-out-loud I’ve read was *Desert Solitaire* by Edward Abbey. There’s a link to some Abbey on audio here:

  3. Should I be ashamed to say I have never heard of this man?

  4. so i’m not a sedaris fan, though i often stare at his books as they decorate the display at barnes and nobles. but i will say that the reason i haven’t picked them up is because, just as you said, i don’t think my humor is wry enough. or dry enough. or something. reminds me too much like something a particular professor would have given me in undergard.

  5. David Sedaris contributes to the This American Life radio show. He’s pretty good but I could see how it may not translate to print. I’ve never read any of his books. With humor, you either like it or you don’t. I like Monty Python, the Wife does not. Doesn’t make anything more or less funny.

  6. You’re a boy who reads? Books? Not just Maxim in the bathroom?? I’m impressed!

    I read Me Talk Pretty One Day years ago and didn’t get it at all. I recently finished Dress Your Family in Denim and Corduroy, and appreciated it a little more.

    I’m not a fan of his the way I am of Augusten Burroughs, but I think Sedaris is funny. In spurts. Its like “Short Attention Span Theatre” in a book. Good summer/airplane reading, but not anything that leads to soul-shifting enlightenment.

  7. Never read him either.

    There are far too many books in the world and I just can’t keep up.

  8. i’m with you here geekhiker … i didn’t quite get the falling down laughing thing. i clearly remember thinking, while reading one of his earlier books, “i think i need to do drugs to relate to this”.

    the situations are indeed humorous, and he has a great cynical way of writing about things, but in the end, i felt that i just couldn’t relate to his life and thus didn’t fall down laughing …

  9. I was introduced to Sedaris in high school (literally) because my high school English teacher was also his high school English teacher back in the day. Anyway, hearing him read his work, or tell stories has always been better than reading his books on my own in my opinion. It would be worth checking out his contributions to This American Life on NPR because I think something gets lost in translation.

    Then again, like Homer-Dog said, humor is subjective. It just may not be your kind of funny.

    oh and p.s. book/music/anything snobs suck. You should read what makes you happy.

  10. I’ve only had a couple of his stories read aloud to me by a friend I traveled with to Europe. I thought his stuff was funny, but who knows if I’d enjoy the whole book. Well…I probably would…I’m a sucker for anything humorous (dry or on rye). Especially if it involves the potty. 😀

  11. I’ve heard a lot about David Sedaris, but after reading a few pages of Me Talk Pretty One Day, I’m not that impressed. I guess I don’t understand what all the hype is about.

  12. I flipped through Naked after reading good reviews, but wasn’t interested in reading. I’m glad to know I’m not the only in that boat.

  13. I’ve seen his books at work many times, yet, have never had the desire to read one.

    I prefer Bill Bryson – that man is hilarious.

  14. Looks like you aren’t the only one. I haven’t heard of him either. Feel better?

  15. I think if someone gave me one of his books or I had a little more time, I’d read it. Who knows if I’d find it funny or not–humor is so personal.

    I definitely with East Coast Teacher though. I adore Bill Bryson and will plow through one of his books in a day, giggling the whole time. I gave one of them to my Dad (I think Walk in the Woods), thinking he’d love it. He didn’t get it at all…

  16. I read Bill Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods. The Wife thought it was great. I yawned.

  17. Forget the book report! What about date #2? Let’s hear more about the adventures of the (not so) single GH =)

  18. Heard alot about him, never read him. Agreeing with the Bill Bryson stuff, hes good. Read what you like, thats why there are so many authors out there, lots of great stuff to choose from!!

  19. I actually just finished Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim yesterday. I liked it, as well as Holidays on Ice and Me Talk Pretty One Day (which I think I liked the best of the three). I’ve been trying to finish Naked for probably a couple years now… I know that makes me sound like a terrible reader. I haven’t picked it up in a while, and that seems how it always goes. Anyway, I like some of his stuff; there are definitely funny moments. I think I don’t like it as much, though, b/c my first dip into the pool of memoirs was with Augusten Burroughs, who quickly became my favorite. They are sorta similar, in that they are gay and write memoirs, but their humor and writing styles are different. I prefer Augusten’s.

    Sorry for babbling on… it’s late, and it’s been a very interesting week. I’ll be posting on my blog (finally) in a few days, so you should check it out!

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