Tuesday, May 1, 2007


Naked, by David Sedaris
$9.44 at Amazon.com ISBN: 0316777730
If you only ever read one book that I post about here at Hansisgreat, please, please make it this one. This is an outstanding book, enjoyable from the very first page, funny enough to have me laughing out loud like a mental patient, but with real substance on topics anyone can relate to. Loosely autobiographical, this is a memoir: Sedaris writes about particular episodes in his life, but doesn't tell you what he did every day so it doesn't get bogged down with details.
Who is David Sedaris and why would you want to read about his life? Well, he's no one famous. He's from a typical suburban, white American family and has just done a lot of unusual things. His relaxed writing style and self-deprecating humor through all his trials are what make his stories so irresistible.
He begins with a few scenes from his childhood: as a young boy and teenager he suffered from a mild case of Tourette's Syndrome: a condition which caused him to act out a series of strange facial expressions, noises, and other peculiar tics. Naturally this isolated him from his classmates and embarrassed his family. For reasons no one entirely understood he'd interrupt his third grade class to lick the pencil sharpener or press his nose against the chalk board.
It sounds very humiliating, but Sedaris tells the story with such charm that you'll laugh along with him rather than feel pity.
What else is there? Well, he led an adventurous adult life. As a teenager he did volunteer work at his small town's mental asylum. He worked as a migrant fruit picker, then got a job in a fruit processing factory. He writes about professional golf, tv mysteries, and even a visit to a nudist colony from which the book gets its name. There's nothing sexual about it, however. Most of the attendees seem to be senior citizens.
Much of Naked is over-the-top hilarious, guaranteed to have you laughing along with this poor guy and the jams he gets himself into or his silly childhood behavior. The parts that aren't funny, however, are just interesting. The reader gets to live vicariously through this quirky wanderer, without having to deal with all the harrowing inconvenience Sedaris had to put up with. The chapters are short and self-contained, the book totals 244 pages and can easily be read on one sunny spring day. This is the kind of guy you love to meet at a party: he's done lots of weird things and has a knack for telling a good story. Skip this one and you're truly missing out. One of the best writers of our generation, Naked is certain to become a classic.

1 comment:

Doyler said...

Man, I love Sedaris and Naked is great. Have you read Barrel Fever? It's a great collection with some quality tales.