The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris

This book was fun to read! And yet I’d resisted it for several years, in part because I didn’t really care for a more recent book by Sedaris, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. Me Talk Pretty One Day was much better, and I wish I’d picked it up sooner. Oh, well. Better to read it late than not at all.

“Me Talk” is a series of humorous essays, some of which first appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, and other magazines, as well as on National Public Radio. Part One of the book is about Sedaris’s family and his adult life B.H. — Before Hugh, the partner who literally led Sedaris to France. And France is the setting for Part Deux, where Sedaris struggles with the French language, discovers the best way to watch American movies, and visits a local fair where hostile cattle are unleashed during a soccer game.

Generally, humor makes me smirk. It’s quite hard to get me beyond the smirk to the laugh-out-loud state, but Sedaris succeeded several times. His droll wit, his stranger-in-a-strange-land outlook (even while living in the U.S.), and his refusal to pretend to be anyone other than himself — fantasy life aside — add up to endearing comedy. For a sample of something from the book, go to this NPR site and click on The Sex of French Nouns. It’s 7 minutes long and hilarious.

From an animal lover’s perspective, this book is Mostly Safe. In an episode from Hugh’s childhood, a piglet is killed. On the other hand, when they lived in Africa, Hugh’s family had a pet monkey who went on vacations with them. Sedaris also recounts the lives and deaths of his family’s many pets in the sweet but sad essay entitled “Youth in Asia,” which you may want to skip if you still get weepy about having had to put down a pet.

One of the best chapters, both in general and from an animal lover’s perspective, is “I Almost Saw This Girl Get Killed.” First of all, no one dies, and second, that’s the chapter about the cantankerous cattle and the soccer game. The cattle, from a breed called “vachette,” were taken to various small-town fairs in Spain and France, where they were displayed in what was essentially a reverse bull-fight. Volunteers did a variety of strange activities — the aforementioned soccer game, stacking inner tubes, etc. — and the vachette attacked these defenseless individuals, sending a few off in an ambulance. Whether they were attempting to avenge their bull-fighting brethren or just attacking for the fun of it, the vachette were certainly diligent in their efforts, and the whole scene perplexed Sedaris to no end. In and of itself, this chapter is worth the price of the book. Enjoy!


January 3, 2009 - Posted by | animals, Book Reviews, humor, pets, satire, travel | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. You’re right — this is a really good book. I’m in the middle of it right now and have to finish before it’s due back at the library on Monday, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Have you heard his work on the radio? I think you’d like.

    Comment by Davis | January 3, 2009 | Reply

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