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“Genius… It is miraculous to read these pieces… You must read The Best of Me.” —Andrew Sean Greer, New York Times Book Review  David Sedaris’s best stories and essays, spanning his remarkable career—as selected by the author himself, and including a new essay A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice A CNN and Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Month For more than t “Genius… It is miraculous to read these pieces… You must read The Best of Me.” —Andrew Sean Greer, New York Times Book Review  David Sedaris’s best stories and essays, spanning his remarkable career—as selected by the author himself, and including a new essay A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice A CNN and Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Month For more than twenty-five years, David Sedaris has been carving out a unique literary space, virtually creating his own genre. A Sedaris story may seem confessional, but is also highly attuned to the world outside. It opens our eyes to what is at absurd and moving about our daily existence. And it is almost impossible to read without laughing.   Now, for the first time collected in one volume, the author brings us his funniest and most memorable work. In these stories, Sedaris shops for rare taxidermy, hitchhikes with a lady quadriplegic, and spits a lozenge into a fellow traveler’s lap. He drowns a mouse in a bucket, struggles to say “give it to me” in five languages, and hand-feeds a carnivorous bird.   But if all you expect to find in Sedaris’s work is the deft and sharply observed comedy for which he became renowned, you may be surprised to discover that his words bring more warmth than mockery, more fellow-feeling than derision. Nowhere is this clearer than in his writing about his loved ones. In these pages, Sedaris explores falling in love and staying together, recognizing his own aging not in the mirror but in the faces of his siblings, losing one parent and coming to terms—at long last—with the other.   Taken together, the stories in TheBest of Me reveal the wonder and delight Sedaris takes in the surprises life brings him. No experience, he sees, is quite as he expected—it’s often harder, more fraught, and certainly weirder—but sometimes it is also much richer and more wonderful.   Full of joy, generosity, and the incisive humor that has led David Sedaris to be called “the funniest man alive” (Time Out New York), The Best of Me spans a career spent watching and learning and laughing—quite often at himself—and invites readers deep into the world of one of the most brilliant and original writers of our time.


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“Genius… It is miraculous to read these pieces… You must read The Best of Me.” —Andrew Sean Greer, New York Times Book Review  David Sedaris’s best stories and essays, spanning his remarkable career—as selected by the author himself, and including a new essay A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice A CNN and Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Month For more than t “Genius… It is miraculous to read these pieces… You must read The Best of Me.” —Andrew Sean Greer, New York Times Book Review  David Sedaris’s best stories and essays, spanning his remarkable career—as selected by the author himself, and including a new essay A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice A CNN and Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Month For more than twenty-five years, David Sedaris has been carving out a unique literary space, virtually creating his own genre. A Sedaris story may seem confessional, but is also highly attuned to the world outside. It opens our eyes to what is at absurd and moving about our daily existence. And it is almost impossible to read without laughing.   Now, for the first time collected in one volume, the author brings us his funniest and most memorable work. In these stories, Sedaris shops for rare taxidermy, hitchhikes with a lady quadriplegic, and spits a lozenge into a fellow traveler’s lap. He drowns a mouse in a bucket, struggles to say “give it to me” in five languages, and hand-feeds a carnivorous bird.   But if all you expect to find in Sedaris’s work is the deft and sharply observed comedy for which he became renowned, you may be surprised to discover that his words bring more warmth than mockery, more fellow-feeling than derision. Nowhere is this clearer than in his writing about his loved ones. In these pages, Sedaris explores falling in love and staying together, recognizing his own aging not in the mirror but in the faces of his siblings, losing one parent and coming to terms—at long last—with the other.   Taken together, the stories in TheBest of Me reveal the wonder and delight Sedaris takes in the surprises life brings him. No experience, he sees, is quite as he expected—it’s often harder, more fraught, and certainly weirder—but sometimes it is also much richer and more wonderful.   Full of joy, generosity, and the incisive humor that has led David Sedaris to be called “the funniest man alive” (Time Out New York), The Best of Me spans a career spent watching and learning and laughing—quite often at himself—and invites readers deep into the world of one of the most brilliant and original writers of our time.

30 review for The Best of Me

  1. 4 out of 5

    Regina

    I’m someone who always has either a book in my hand or an audiobook in my ear. The former is often praised, while the latter is frequently questioned. "Listening to an audiobook isn’t really reading," "I just can’t stand someone else’s voice that long,” and “I zone out” are common things I hear. But occasionally people will say, “I just don’t know where to start.” To those friends I say, this is the place. If David Sedaris publishes a book, I am going to “read” it by listening to the audiobook. I’m someone who always has either a book in my hand or an audiobook in my ear. The former is often praised, while the latter is frequently questioned. "Listening to an audiobook isn’t really reading," "I just can’t stand someone else’s voice that long,” and “I zone out” are common things I hear. But occasionally people will say, “I just don’t know where to start.” To those friends I say, this is the place. If David Sedaris publishes a book, I am going to “read” it by listening to the audiobook. Every. Single. Time. I hope it goes without saying that he narrates them himself, since his public readings are as much a part of his literary persona as his actual writing. In fact studio recordings of some essays are typically intermixed with live ones, which treat listeners to the added buzz of audience reactions. Also, unlike many other nonfiction works, his print books don’t contain photos or illustrations that you miss out on by choosing this format. All this is true of Sedaris’s self-curated 2020 collection aptly titled “The Best of Me.” Following a brief introduction, his favorite essays proceed in the order in which they were published. I do wish this was stated upfront and that there was some sort of indication of where each piece originally came from. Audiobook listeners aren’t missing out here though - the hardback version doesn’t make this any clearer unless you look at the fine print on the Copyright page. Once I clued into this though, it makes the collection even more impactful for Sedaris devotees or newbies. Here you get a "Whitman’s Sampler" of one of today’s best humorist’s work, which he believes to be his own best, laid out in such a way that you can witness him grow as a writer. Despite my rating for this collection, a Sedaris book is not a 5-star sure thing for me. I’ve knocked a few of them down as low as 2, most often when I’ve found their content to be just too cynical and mean-spirited. I guess I have to agree with his choices of greatest hits though, because I was more than happy to enjoy his selections a second time around. Last but absolutely not least, “The Best of Me” concludes with an hour-long Q&A session between the author and Paul Constant from the Seattle Review of Books. This is a new interview recorded during the 2020 pandemic, which is a treasure trove of insight. Topics include how he’s been biding his time riding out COVID restrictions, the various ways he’s tweaked these essays for republication here, his advice to upstart writers, and a lightening round of random questions like where his collected papers are going upon his death. (Spoiler alert, they’re going to Yale.) If you still can’t bring yourself to hop on the audiobook bandwagon, then by all means grab yourself the hardback. It’s whimsical cover and must-have content would make a worthy addition to any book lover’s shelf.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elle

    I absolutely blew through this. David Sedaris is a once in a generation talent and this collection of stories is no exception to that rule. Some of his die-hard fans might find this redundant, but as I’ve only ever read Calypso (and loved it), a greatest hits album is exactly what I want from this author! I won’t get too much into the specifics of the stories themselves, but it’s a good mix of work from him. Having only read Calypso, the majority of what I’ve seen has been stories about his life, I absolutely blew through this. David Sedaris is a once in a generation talent and this collection of stories is no exception to that rule. Some of his die-hard fans might find this redundant, but as I’ve only ever read Calypso (and loved it), a greatest hits album is exactly what I want from this author! I won’t get too much into the specifics of the stories themselves, but it’s a good mix of work from him. Having only read Calypso, the majority of what I’ve seen has been stories about his life, particularly as it relates to his family. So I was pleasantly surprised at the number of works of fiction that Sedaris has authored as well! Glen’s Homophobia Newsletter was utterly fantastic. And the fact that it was written in 1994 but somehow completely holds up speaks to the lasting-power of his writing skills. Also present is Sedaris’ trademark dry humor interwoven with some darker subjects. From pieces about his mother and father to the death of his sister Tiffany and some really unexpectedly bleak stories staring talking animals, you never know quite what to expect when turning the page. Though, if you get the opportunity, I’d recommend listening to the audiobook—you simply cannot beat the experience of hearing this author recite his own work. David Sedaris does a lot of workshopping his stories, at readings, signings, etc., so his performance is almost reminiscent of a stand-up comedy act behind a podium. This book is the balm to a really raw and red year, but in the most atypical way. Like when Sedaris blandly hopes for the deaths of multiple children in his stories (largely fictional, calm down). It’s not the idea but the delivery that is so inherently funny. While listening to this you’ll just find yourself breaking down in obnoxious laughter at the most bizarre things, but unable to retell the joke without someone thinking you’re insane. I really can’t explain it any other way, but he succeeds so well at taking niche bits of darker humor and transforming them for consumption by a general audience, without losing any of the bite. At the very end of the audiobook there was a great interview that Sedaris does with Paul Constant where he talks about his writing process, what it’s like for him to work during quarantine, etc. I think hearing his back and forth with an actual person was an great way to end what amounts to a 12-hour monologue by the author. It reminded me that he’s not just a character in his stories, but an actual person who largely writes from his own life experiences. He also uses that time to talk about the impact of his writing career on his family, how they handle the inevitable characterization that comes from being the subjects of a famous sibling’s famous stories. All in all, great collection, FAN-TAS-TIC author. This would make an amazing Christmas gift for any Sedaris fans you know! And although he bemoans some of his older works, I think I’m going to try to make time to work through some of his backlog, whether he finds them “clunky” or not.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    I always give this author five stars because his insane humor appeals to my own twisted sense of what makes me laugh. I lowered it to four stars but it is not the fault of the author but my own. The title should have told me that these were his favorites from previous books. I have read all of his books and this collection of stories is taken from them with some additional columns/essays that he has written. So, I was basically re-reading chapters from books that I have read,, several, many time I always give this author five stars because his insane humor appeals to my own twisted sense of what makes me laugh. I lowered it to four stars but it is not the fault of the author but my own. The title should have told me that these were his favorites from previous books. I have read all of his books and this collection of stories is taken from them with some additional columns/essays that he has written. So, I was basically re-reading chapters from books that I have read,, several, many times. It was a bit disappointing, although the blurbs from his essays/columns were new to me and I enjoyed them immensely. Sedaris is probably an acquired taste.......you either love him or you can't seem to connect with his surreal world. But if you love him, you really love him and that's me to a tee! So even though I just re-read for the third time, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, I still got a chuckle out of those familiar short excerpts from that and his other books. A Sedaris feast for the fan!!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Author David Sedaris Humorist David Sedaris put together some of his best previously published stories in this book. The author is almost always funny, but some of his anecdotes are melancholy and nostalgic. In addition to recounting humorous incidents in his life Sedaris writes about his sister's suicide; his mother's alcoholism; and his father's disapproval. The following are examples of his anecdotes. ***** From a letter to President Clinton signed by voters in Michigan: "The first thing you shou Author David Sedaris Humorist David Sedaris put together some of his best previously published stories in this book. The author is almost always funny, but some of his anecdotes are melancholy and nostalgic. In addition to recounting humorous incidents in his life Sedaris writes about his sister's suicide; his mother's alcoholism; and his father's disapproval. The following are examples of his anecdotes. ***** From a letter to President Clinton signed by voters in Michigan: "The first thing you should do is put some stores on your so-called Washington Mall. My family and I visited last summer and were disappointed to find nothing but grass and statues. Since Washington is the capital of our country, shouldn't its mall be world-class?....Let's bring on the food court." Washington Mall ***** In a foreign language class conducted exclusively in French, the teacher asked a question about Easter. A Moroccan student asked "Excuse me, but what's an Easter?" Realizing their Moroccan classmate was unfamiliar with Christianity, the students used their minimal knowledge of French to respond. "It is a party for the little boy of God who call his self Jesus and then he die one day on two....morsels of ....lumber." "He die one day and then he go above my head to live with your father." "He weared of himself the long hair and after he die, the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples." "Easter is a party for to eat of the lamb. One too may eat of the chocolate." When the teacher asked who brings the chocolate, Sedaris replies, "The rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate." More incomprehensible conversation followed, and - confused and disgusted - the Moroccan student shrugged her shoulders and turned her attention back to the comic book she kept hidden under her binder. ***** When Sedaris was small his family moved to North Carolina, where young David heard that a neighboring family, the Tomkeys, had no television. David went to school with two of the Tomkey children, and he sometimes tried to view the world through their eyes. One day in class a boy named William began to write the wrong answer on the blackboard, and the teacher flailed her arms, saying "Warning, Will. Danger, danger." The class laughed, knowing that she was imitating the robot in the TV show Lost in Space. Sedaris observes, "The Tomkeys though, would have thought she was having a heart attack." ***** Every summer the Sedaris family rented a vacation home on the North Carolina coast, where the houses had clever names like The Skinny Dipper, Lazy Daze, Loony Dunes, etc. The family was in the car one day when David's dad said he would BUY a summer house. Excited about getting a vacation home, everyone threw out suggestions for names based on things they saw outside the car window. Thus a gas station inspired the name 'The Shell Station' (which isn't bad). Other ideas were The TV Antenna, The Telephone Pole, The Toothless Black Man Selling Shrimp From The Back Of His Van, The Cement Mixer, The Overturned Grocery Cart, The Cigarette Butt Thrown Out the Window, and so on. As things turned out Dad reneged and didn't buy a house (though David himself eventually did). ***** David was planning a visit to his sister Lisa in Winston Salem and phoned to finalize arrangements. Since Lisa would be at work when David arrived, she needed to tell him where she'd hide the door key. Lisa said, "I'm thinking I'll just leave the key under the hour ott near the ack toor." David thought she had something in her mouth until he realized she was speaking in code. So David said, "Okay, but can you tell me WHICH hour ott?" "It's ed", she said. "Well.....eddish." When David arrived, he (luckily) found the key under the red flowerpot near the back door. ***** Once, at a dinner party, David met a woman whose parrot had learned to imitate the automatic icemaker on her refrigerator. "That's what happens when they're left alone," the woman had said. This was very depressing to David, who felt bad for the lonesome creature. David repeated the story to his sister Lisa, who told him that neglect had nothing to do with it. Lisa then prepared a cappuccino, setting the stage for her parrot Henry's pitch perfect imitation of the milk steamer. "He can do the blender too, she said." ***** Sedaris travels around the world to promote his books. and uses Pimsleur audio programs to learn phrases in the language of the destination country, such as Japan, China, France, etc. Sedaris did this on a trip to Germany, with German audio programs. In one program, the teacher explains that German and English are closely related and thus have a lot in common. In one language the verb is 'to come', and in the other its 'kommen.' English 'to give' is Germen 'gebben.' America's 'That is good' is Germany's 'Das ist gut.' Sedaris notes, "It's an excellent way to start and leaves the listener thinking, 'Hey Ich kann do dis.' ***** Sedaris writes about his brother Paul, who has all but given up solid food, and at age forty-six eats much the way he did when he was nine months old. Everything goes into his Omega J8006 juicer - kale, carrots, celery, some kind of powder scraped off the knuckles of bees - and it all comes out dung-colored and the texture of applesauce. David observes that Paul once juiced "What I think was a tennis ball mixed with beets and four-leaf clovers." ***** When gay marriage became legal in the United States, Sedaris's accountant advised him it would be financially advantageous if David and his partner Hugh got married. Sedaris writes, "While I often dreamed of making a life with another man, I never extended the fantasy to marriage....The whole thing felt like a step down to me. From the dawn of time, the one irrefutably good thing about gay men and lesbians was that we didn't force people to sit through our weddings." ***** Talking about his North Carolina vacation home, called the Sea Section, Sedaris observes that it's nothing much to look at. He goes on, "It might have been designed by a ten-year-old with a ruler, that's how basic it is: walls, roof, windows, deck. It's easy to imagine the architect putting down his crayon and shouting into the next room, 'I'm done. Can I watch TV now'?" ***** On a serious note, Sedaris notes that one of his favorite TV shows is Intervention, which makes him think of his mother - who was an alcoholic. He goes on, "It's a hard word to use for someone you love, and so my family avoided it. Rather, we'd whisper, among ourselves, that Mom 'had a problem', that she 'could stand to cut back.' When sober, David's mother was sunny and likable, and when drunk, she was dark, belligerent, and - when other people were around - embarrassing. Still, the family never confronted her. Young Amy and David Sedaris with their mother Sharon ***** Sedaris's father was a difficult man who was particularly critical of David, frequently suggesting David would never amount to anything. Even after David became successful, his father couldn't acknowledge his accomplishments. Finally, towards the end of his life, Sedaris's nonagenarian father told him, "You've accomplished so many fantastic things in your life. You're well....I want to tell you....you....you won." Nonagenarian Lou Sedaris ***** I'll wind up with a cute limerick: Rags, the Shatwells' Irish setter, doubles as a paper shredder. His lunch was bills, and last year's taxes, followed by a dozen faxes. ***** There are many more funny anecdotes in the book, as well additional humorous limericks, amusing short stories, and a few wistful recollections. If you need a laugh, you can't go wrong with David Sedaris. You can follow my reviews at http://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com/

  5. 4 out of 5

    Violeta

    "He (my father) came from behind and pinched her (my mother) on the bottom. She laughed and swathed him with a towel. Then we witnessed what we would later come to recognize as the rejuvenating power of real estate. It's what fortunate couples turn to when their sexual life has faded and they're too pious for affairs. A second car might bring people together for a week or two but a second home can revitalize a marriage for up to nine months after the closing." Because humor is a life saver and "He (my father) came from behind and pinched her (my mother) on the bottom. She laughed and swathed him with a towel. Then we witnessed what we would later come to recognize as the rejuvenating power of real estate. It's what fortunate couples turn to when their sexual life has faded and they're too pious for affairs. A second car might bring people together for a week or two but a second home can revitalize a marriage for up to nine months after the closing." Because humor is a life saver and a tried and true vent valve much needed these days, this collection of the best work of David Sedaris couldn't have come out at a better time. Perfect for old and new fans alike, it serves generous helpings of his witty prose. It often takes a sharp turn towards sadness and, at times, even morbidity but never misses a beat in casting a comic light on everything, EVERYTHING, that makes us flinch. His essays are mostly autobiographic, his recurring themes focusing on an assortment of social embarrassments (especially in-flight ones), his middle-class suburban childhood, life abroad and the awkwardness of trying to fit in and absorb a foreign culture, his relationship with his quite normally dysfunctional large family. The earlier ones are hilarious, insolent, a tad unforgiving. As the years pass his writing changes, becomes more sensitive and charitable but never falters in finding the droll side in every misfortune, small or big. As each story unfolds you find yourself eagerly awaiting for the twist that will unfailingly offer the anticipated comic relief. I loved how he tackles head-on his insecurities, his less-than-noble thoughts, his sometimes petty instincts that (surprise, surprise) aren't exclusively his, after all. He does offer a kind of redemption through recognition; what's more, he makes us laugh WITH, not AT ourselves. "We're forever blaming the airline industry for turning us into monsters. It's the fault of the ticket agents, the baggage handlers, the slow pokes at the newsstands and the fast-food restaurants. But what if this is what we truly are and the airport is just the forum that allows us to be our real selves- not just hateful but gloriously so. It was a thought that was with me when I boarded my flight to Portland and it was still on my mind several hours later when we were told to put our tray tables away and prepare for landing. Then the flight attendants, garbage bags in hand, glided down the aisle, looking each one of us straight in the face and whispering without discrimination: you're trash, you're trash..." Anyone who has ever been or worked in an airport or a plane will recognize the feeling :) This was an audio-book for me and it was an added bonus that it was narrated by the author. His talents obviously don't only lie in writing. A piece of advise though: better not listen to him in a public space. I mustn't have looked like the sanest person out there, the way I kept bursting into laughter while walking in the deserted streets of my locked-down neighborhood.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ I’m assuming there will be plenty of people/critics who call Sedaris’ latest release nothing but a money grab. To them I say . . . . . Musicians release “Greatest Hits” compilations all the effing time. Why can’t an essayist do the same? Obviously this being the “Best Of” means there is not new material (that being said, at 400 pages he really gives you your money's worth). For a fan like me it was interesting to see which subm Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ I’m assuming there will be plenty of people/critics who call Sedaris’ latest release nothing but a money grab. To them I say . . . . . Musicians release “Greatest Hits” compilations all the effing time. Why can’t an essayist do the same? Obviously this being the “Best Of” means there is not new material (that being said, at 400 pages he really gives you your money's worth). For a fan like me it was interesting to see which submissions David considered to be his best (and I hate to say, but I really don’t agree with his opening of the book with his fictional stuff because those aren’t always my fave). But this might be a great jumping off point for people new to my Darling David. You get to not only experience his humor with laugh-out-loud entries about The Rooster, the Sea Section, learning how to Talk Pretty One Day, Santa’s Six to Eight Black Men and more, but also his heart as he talks about his family (particularly his parents and deceased sister). As always, I highly recommend listening to the audio if given the opportunity because his delivery adds a whole ‘notha level to the experience (and this one includes some of his live performances like when he read at Carnegie Hall). Bottom line is I am a Sedaris completionist and I will read and/or listen (in this case both) to anything he releases. Even if it’s stuff I’ve already read before.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    4+ stars I listened to this one as an audio. I had already heard many of these stories, but not all of them. And it doesn’t really matter, because even David Sedaris’s familiar stories made me smile. I love the rhythm of his storytelling and writing. Perfect smart and funny escape during these tumultuous times. And there’s a fabulous long interview at the end.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kelli

    Though I have sort of abandoned essays as a genre after some seriously underwhelming collections last year, I will never abandon David Sedaris. He is his own masterpiece and he demands to be heard on audio. It is incomparable to reading his words and adds so many layers to the experience. I highly recommend it. 4 stars I’m writing this review on January 7th in the US. We are literally just seven days into the new year, and it feels infinitely more distressing than 2020. I’d like to just hole up a Though I have sort of abandoned essays as a genre after some seriously underwhelming collections last year, I will never abandon David Sedaris. He is his own masterpiece and he demands to be heard on audio. It is incomparable to reading his words and adds so many layers to the experience. I highly recommend it. 4 stars I’m writing this review on January 7th in the US. We are literally just seven days into the new year, and it feels infinitely more distressing than 2020. I’d like to just hole up and listen to David Sedaris until 2022, please!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    Perfection for these endless days of worry and anxiety. One of the most entertaining, honest, quirky, and unashamed writers I have read. Sedaris' stories, inner monologue, and personality are seemingly so strange, and yet he always finds a way to get to the depth of the human spirit and the love and joy in the messy chaos that is "normal" life. Definitely some re-read/listens for Sedaris fans, but that's not the worst thing to happen this year, is it? Perfection for these endless days of worry and anxiety. One of the most entertaining, honest, quirky, and unashamed writers I have read. Sedaris' stories, inner monologue, and personality are seemingly so strange, and yet he always finds a way to get to the depth of the human spirit and the love and joy in the messy chaos that is "normal" life. Definitely some re-read/listens for Sedaris fans, but that's not the worst thing to happen this year, is it?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook .... I didn't finish this collection -- only because I've heard most of these stories before -- I understand there is a new story (thank you Toni), in the physical book.... But -- I wasn't interested enough right now - to re-read these stories -- Not rating --as I didn't finish. Audiobook .... I didn't finish this collection -- only because I've heard most of these stories before -- I understand there is a new story (thank you Toni), in the physical book.... But -- I wasn't interested enough right now - to re-read these stories -- Not rating --as I didn't finish.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan W

    Hello it’s David Sedaris. Mostly old favorites, but some I didn’t remember. But you can always reread David Sedaris.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    A compilation of David’s essays from previous books. The one exception is “Unbuttoned,” which was published in the ‘New Yorker’ sometime in March or April of 2020, has been added. In the early version I listened to it wasn’t included, but I’m guessing fans were upset with that story because they were left wondering if David’s father died or not. ‘Unbuttoned’ is an essay about David’s father, who at the beginning of the story, was in the hospital dying from the coronavirus. By the time David and A compilation of David’s essays from previous books. The one exception is “Unbuttoned,” which was published in the ‘New Yorker’ sometime in March or April of 2020, has been added. In the early version I listened to it wasn’t included, but I’m guessing fans were upset with that story because they were left wondering if David’s father died or not. ‘Unbuttoned’ is an essay about David’s father, who at the beginning of the story, was in the hospital dying from the coronavirus. By the time David and Hugh flew from Europe to NC, Lou Sedaris was already on the mend and back in his nursing home. But the story ends abruptly, with all the siblings talking about which one of them was going to write their father’s obituary! For months after this, it was as if David Sedaris dropped off the planet. Nothing on social media, no followup about his father. As a loyal fan for years, I was quite put out. ‘He told us about his family for years,’ I screamed, ‘he made us care.’ How could he leave us hanging. Apparently I wasn’t the only fan who felt this way, because an interview with David is included at the end of the essays that also wasn’t in the earlier version. Yay! I’m happy you hear your fans. It’s a great interview and David sounds relaxed as he chats and answers thoughtful and fun questions. He mentions his father is 97 and doing fine. Thank goodness! Okay, NOW I m happy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sonja Arlow

    3.5 stars I have always been a fan of this author, except when he writes fiction. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is still hands down one if the most disappointing books I have read by him. BUT when he writes about his life, his family, and his little obsessions I cannot help but smile and at times laugh out loud. This is a compilation of his best work through the years and, unfortunately for me, it also included some of his fictional stories. But luckily most of this compilation consist of essays about h 3.5 stars I have always been a fan of this author, except when he writes fiction. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is still hands down one if the most disappointing books I have read by him. BUT when he writes about his life, his family, and his little obsessions I cannot help but smile and at times laugh out loud. This is a compilation of his best work through the years and, unfortunately for me, it also included some of his fictional stories. But luckily most of this compilation consist of essays about his family mixed with a few stand-up comedy recordings. There is also a really good interview with the author at the end which I found very insightful. If you are a fan of David Sedaris reading this will be a no brainer and if you have ever heard him narrate his own stories you will know why you must get this on audio. A good choice for the end of the year when you need to escape into laughter.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I think of this as David Sedaris' greatest hits. It's a compilation of new and previously aired material. We laughed and we cried. We (hubby and me) finished it this evening and were very moved by the essays on his mom and dad. The author interview at the end is enlightening also. I think of this as David Sedaris' greatest hits. It's a compilation of new and previously aired material. We laughed and we cried. We (hubby and me) finished it this evening and were very moved by the essays on his mom and dad. The author interview at the end is enlightening also.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    Because the stories are sorted by publishing date, this compilation shows how much this author's writing has changed, and in my opinion, improved. Although there were many laugh out loud moments in the first half of the book, there were also some weird ones I could not connect to. The deeper I got into The Best of Me, the more feelings were evoked by his descriptions. In most of his Calypso stories I found myself having a few tears in my eyes while laughing. I really enjoyed the interview, and it Because the stories are sorted by publishing date, this compilation shows how much this author's writing has changed, and in my opinion, improved. Although there were many laugh out loud moments in the first half of the book, there were also some weird ones I could not connect to. The deeper I got into The Best of Me, the more feelings were evoked by his descriptions. In most of his Calypso stories I found myself having a few tears in my eyes while laughing. I really enjoyed the interview, and it was very interesting to hear more about his writing process. If you've never read anything by David Sedaris, I recommend listening to Calypso. His love for his family and off-beat, quirky sense of humor makes this one of my best-loved books.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laura Noggle

    Cozy and familiar and funny.

  17. 5 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    Sedaris hand-selected this collection, so it’s his opinion of “best.” I agree with many, but would’ve likely nixed the fiction. His short stories are decent, but he is such a master of the personal essay. That said, this was just what I needed right now! There’s an insightful interview at the end of the audiobook (brilliantly narrated as usual). Naturally, I needed a physical copy, too. It’s beautiful!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    Yes, as has been pointed out elsewhere, this is not new material but an anthology gleaned from Mr. Sedaris's previous work, but what is wrong with that? I take issue with those who point this out when it says so right on the cover. Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting these pieces, meeting some of them for the first time, since during these weird days, David Sedaris is just what I needed. His experiences about himself and his family provide endless enjoymen Yes, as has been pointed out elsewhere, this is not new material but an anthology gleaned from Mr. Sedaris's previous work, but what is wrong with that? I take issue with those who point this out when it says so right on the cover. Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting these pieces, meeting some of them for the first time, since during these weird days, David Sedaris is just what I needed. His experiences about himself and his family provide endless enjoyment, overlaid with his trademark humanity, humor, and warmth. There are as many tears as laughs here, and I really took my time with this one, savoring them like tidbits between other books and stretching it out. On a personal note, I was thrilled to learn of his interest in Barry Mcgee, a San Francisco artist who made his mark, literally, on the City and went on to gain well deserved respect.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    I love listening to Sedaris read his stories. He’s such a good storyteller and humorist. While avid fans like me have likely read most of the stories within, I still enjoyed it. The chronology also puts on display how he has matured as a writer, with increasing depth over time, and touches of sorrow and melancholy added in that give him more of a three dimensionality than you find in earlier work. Thanks to Libro.fm for the free listening copy!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I have read almost all of David Sedaris' books. I hope I never forget the joy I felt when I read the first few chapters of Me Talk Pretty One Day. I remember wondering to myself - who is this crazy guy? He's funny. Happily, I still feel that way, but I've developed certain expectations when I read one of his new books. I know that when he describes his struggle to learn to speak French in France or his enjoyment of watching a spider building a web in a window that I will smile, maybe even laugh. I have read almost all of David Sedaris' books. I hope I never forget the joy I felt when I read the first few chapters of Me Talk Pretty One Day. I remember wondering to myself - who is this crazy guy? He's funny. Happily, I still feel that way, but I've developed certain expectations when I read one of his new books. I know that when he describes his struggle to learn to speak French in France or his enjoyment of watching a spider building a web in a window that I will smile, maybe even laugh. But he can also share stories about his family that make me want to cry. He can be mean, petty, snarky and spot-on hilarious. In this "best of" collection, he shares the essays he likes best. Most of these essays are not new to me, but they still made me laugh and want to cry. Worth the read for all his fans.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Holly Hayes

    Dying (?) LAUGHING!!!!!!! I am only 20% through this latest tome by my favorite author, David Sedaris. I just finished "Us versus Them." I read it sitting on the back porch of my North Louisiana home. Now my neighbor thinks I am insane. Five times I had to stop reading to wipe the tears of hilarity from my eyes enough to see the next words. At least three times I had to sputter, choking, because I was laughing too hard for my breath to catch up. Toward the near end of this ONE STORY, I was callin Dying (?) LAUGHING!!!!!!! I am only 20% through this latest tome by my favorite author, David Sedaris. I just finished "Us versus Them." I read it sitting on the back porch of my North Louisiana home. Now my neighbor thinks I am insane. Five times I had to stop reading to wipe the tears of hilarity from my eyes enough to see the next words. At least three times I had to sputter, choking, because I was laughing too hard for my breath to catch up. Toward the near end of this ONE STORY, I was calling aloud for someone to Please Call The Paramedics! To say I was Dying Laughing is a cliched understatement. I envision reading this to my hard-working, long-suffering husband, when he gets home from his 9-5 in diesel parts sales, to give him an ounce of joy in his day. But how can i? How can I recite these words, without ruining the punches, because I need my nebulizer to breathe????? I LOVE YOU, D.S. in the Most Non-"homophobic" way. LOL LOL LOL

  22. 5 out of 5

    Georgia

    yes it's the first of january and i have already read one book and rated it five stars. this grade reflects the fact that dave is the world's best writer, even though a couple of these stories (mainly the fiction ones) were not to the taste of GGA yes it's the first of january and i have already read one book and rated it five stars. this grade reflects the fact that dave is the world's best writer, even though a couple of these stories (mainly the fiction ones) were not to the taste of GGA

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    David Sedaris’s new collection of essays and short fiction, The Best of Me, is a treat for any Sedaris fan. I don’t necessarily agree with all of his selections, and there are some particularly awesome essays he didn’t include (“A Plague of Tics,” “The Drama Bug,” and “Dinah, the Christmas Whore”) He also didn’t include the essay that essentially made him famous: “Santaland Diaries.” I heard a recent interview during which he stated he didn’t include it because when he reads it now, he sees ever David Sedaris’s new collection of essays and short fiction, The Best of Me, is a treat for any Sedaris fan. I don’t necessarily agree with all of his selections, and there are some particularly awesome essays he didn’t include (“A Plague of Tics,” “The Drama Bug,” and “Dinah, the Christmas Whore”) He also didn’t include the essay that essentially made him famous: “Santaland Diaries.” I heard a recent interview during which he stated he didn’t include it because when he reads it now, he sees everything he’d like to correct and doesn’t think it’s all that great (despite it being so popular). However, Sedaris does include some of my favorites, including “Six to Eight Black Men” (a holiday classic for me). I’ve been a fan of David Sedaris ever since a friend loaned me her copy of Naked, one of his earliest collections of essays. The book introduced me to essays that were different from what I had to read in school (usually serious and analyzed to death). His essays were funny and biting and sarcastic and smart. They still are. Since that first book, I’ve been a consistent reader, purchasing his books as soon as they are published. Due to his extensive book tours, I’ve been able to see him several times. His readings are always worth attending if for no other reason than to see what the hell he’s going to wear. Ever since he discovered Tokyo and the shops there (“A Perfect Fit”), he wears odd clothes—at least from the waist down. Culottes are his new thing. On Sedaris, they kind of look like skirts of odd lengths. However, they do (as he mentions himself) show off his excellently muscled calves (from all the walking he does around the English countryside while picking up garbage). Sedaris is at his absolute best in his essays, the topic of which is always personal; loyal readers know all of his siblings (Amy the most recognizable as a comedian and actor), his boyfriend Hugh, and probably a lot of details that a normal person would not discuss at work, much less make it his work (the last essay, “Unbuttoned,” starts with Sedaris describing a “pretty disgusting medical procedure” he was about to undergo while also describing a prostate exam he had just survived: “I’m fairly certain it involved forcing a Golden Globe Award up my ass.”). I don’t care so much for his short fiction, even though it can be funny too, but the tone is different. His fiction often involves the narrator being a miserable person, but the narrator isn’t aware of that. As the reader, you are. These stories are more of a dark, bitter humor in which the narrator gets his comeuppance (although the narrator may not recognize it) and aren’t always so much fun to read. Sedaris is making a point (generally it’s something like, this person is a giant asshole—don’t be a giant asshole) and I can recognize the evil genius of his writing, but those stories are not my favorite (see: “Glen’s Homophobia Newsletter Vol. 3, No. 2” and “Christmas Means Giving.” I found “The Motherless Bear” to be particularly unpleasant, even though I got his point and agreed with it.). What I love, and what Sedaris is known for, are his essays. I don’t usually listen to audio books, but with Sedaris I make an exception. His voice, once you get used to it, is unique and gives his essays an extra dose of humor. I’ve listened to him so much that I heard his voice while reading this book. Not, interestingly enough, when I read the fiction pieces, but when I read the essays, particularly ones I’ve heard him read before (seriously, “Six to Eight Black Men” is so much funnier in his voice). I consider this a plus as his voice is better than the voice in my head. (And of course, since I am imagining his voice, it also becomes—however temporarily—my voice as well. I wonder if he would like knowing that his voice took over my brain voice?) His essays can be grouped roughly into topics. The ones that made me snort-laugh (even after reading them three or four times) are his essays about learning foreign languages. He usually tries to learn a few useful phrases in the language of the country he is touring, but when he and his boyfriend lived in France for a few years, David took a French language class. “Me Talk Pretty One Day” and “Jesus Shaves” are hilarious. The students are allowed to speak only French and when called upon to explain Easter to a Moroccan student, they run into obvious roadblocks (“He call his self Jesus and then he die one day on two…morsels of…lumber” and “He weared of himself the long hair and after he die, the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples”): Simple nouns such as cross and resurrection were beyond our grasp, let alone such complicated reflexive phrases as “to give of yourself your only begotten son.” Faced with the challenge of explaining the cornerstone of Christianity, we did what any self-respecting group of people would might do. We talked about food instead (71). In “Easy, Tiger,” Sedaris discusses learning languages from Pimsleur programs. On his trip to China, he forgot to download the program so used his Lonely Planet phrase book instead. This book divides phrases into short chapters. David’s favorite chapter was titled “Romance” and included these sample phrases: “Would you like a drink? “You’re a fantastic dancer.” “You look like some cousin of mine.” The latter would work only if you were Asian, but even then it’s a little creepy, the implication being “the cousin I have always wanted to undress and ejaculate on.” (247)David’s essays are brutally honest and not sentimental. He shows himself and his family as normal people—funny, sometimes a little mean, and weird—but also supportive of each other. In “Now We Are Five,” David discusses the suicide of his sister Tiffany and how they all wonder why she did it: Mustn’t Tiffany have hoped that whatever pills she’d taken wouldn’t be strong enough and that her failed attempt would lead her back into our fold? How could anyone purposefully leave us—us, of all people? This is how I thought of it, for though I’ve often lost faith in myself, I’ve never lost faith in my family, in my certainty that we are fundamentally better than everyone else. It’s an archaic belief, one I haven’t seriously reconsidered since my late teens, but still I hold it. Ours is the only club I’d ever wanted to be a member of, so I couldn’t imagine quitting. Backing off for a year or two was understandable, but to want out so badly that you’d take your own life? (309)Some of the best essays in the book are very personal about his family. In addition to “Now We Are Five,” “A House Divided” and “The Spirit World” also discuss Tiffany and how she disengaged from the family. The latter essay is especially brutal—David reveals the circumstances of the last time he saw Tiffany and his behavior is shockingly cruel. He does not excuse himself, but says his family told him: well, don’t be too hard on yourself. We all know how Tiffany is. David knows they are merely trying to ease his ease his conscience: “They’ve always done that for me, my family. It’s what keeps me coming back” (374). In “Why Aren’t You Laughing?” his mother’s alcoholism is the topic: “It’s almost laughable, this insistence on a reason. I think my mother was lonely without her children—her fan club. But I think she drank because she was an alcoholic” (363). The last essay in the book, “Unbuttoned,” is about his ninety-five year old father and everyone gathering around him, essentially waiting for him to die. Loyal readers are aware that David and his father have a difficult relationship, but in his essay David forgives him (I recently heard some of an NPR interview and his father is still alive). David Sedaris is a very funny writer. He’s also sarcastic and biting and doesn’t engage in sentimentality. Despite mining his personal life (and family) for his essays, he’s very close to his family and loves them. His writing isn’t for everyone, particularly those readers who prefer their humor to be PC and socially appropriate. That said, David is most blunt about himself, and recognizes his own shortcomings (see: “Understanding Understanding Owls”). I love his writing because he isn’t trying to be nice, he’s trying to be funny and he recognizes that nice is rarely funny.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stella

    This is a collection of some of Sedaris’ favorite essays, so if you are a huge fan, you’ve probably read them before. However, this was the first time I’ve listened to one of his audiobooks and I absolutely loved it. Revisiting these hilarious and often touching stories was such a welcome relief from these uncertain times. 5+ stars always!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    I love David Sedaris. He has a great sarcastic sense of humor that he tempers with sharp human interest observations. Sweet and funny/wickedly sharp and poignant. These are repeat stories but still worth a read. Listening to the audio of David reading his own work is even better!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gelaine

    I think it's a big mistake to read this book without the audiobook narrated by the author himself. He is morbidly funny. Some essays will make you want to recoil in second-hand embarrassment. Sedaris' narration sets the tone of this book. There were also some live recordings included in the audiobook (I found myself laughing along quite often with the audience). His humour may be an acquired taste for some people. For example, he will talk about his sister's suicide then move on to his prostate I think it's a big mistake to read this book without the audiobook narrated by the author himself. He is morbidly funny. Some essays will make you want to recoil in second-hand embarrassment. Sedaris' narration sets the tone of this book. There were also some live recordings included in the audiobook (I found myself laughing along quite often with the audience). His humour may be an acquired taste for some people. For example, he will talk about his sister's suicide then move on to his prostate exam experience next. Some essays are fables with a hint of dark comedy. Many of the nonfiction pieces are about his family and life growing up in North Carolina. The fiction pieces are brilliant as well (i.e. Jesus Shaves, The Cat and the Baboon, and The Motherless Bear). My favourite essays would have to be "Solution to Saturday's Puzzle" and "A Guy Walks into a Bar Car". I like how he writes about his relationship with his mom, dad, and siblings. Each member of the family is very unique. He has 5 other siblings thus making it a very vibrant and interesting household to live in. Those childhood memories inspired many of his essays. He talks about his family in a candid yet sincere way. The concluding essays were slightly more solemn. He writes about death and changes in his family dynamics. There were also some reflection pieces as he looks back in his career and the successes he’s achieved. I found myself laughing quite a bit while reading this essay collection. I recommend this book to those who need a laugh and looking for an easy read. I think this is also a good introduction to David Sedaris' work for those who are interested.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Oh, how I love David Sedaris, who is a terrible, yet terribly human, person and not afraid to admit it! This was a collection of some of his favorite stories and essays from his previous work, including highlights like Six to Eight Black Men, Jesus Shaves, and Now We Are Five. I must admit that I am not a fan of his fiction. His weird little short stories, which seem to be mostly from the POV of an ultra conservative woman, are just too offbeat and mean-spirited for me. But it was interesting to Oh, how I love David Sedaris, who is a terrible, yet terribly human, person and not afraid to admit it! This was a collection of some of his favorite stories and essays from his previous work, including highlights like Six to Eight Black Men, Jesus Shaves, and Now We Are Five. I must admit that I am not a fan of his fiction. His weird little short stories, which seem to be mostly from the POV of an ultra conservative woman, are just too offbeat and mean-spirited for me. But it was interesting to see how he, and his writing, mature over the years. This is why I think Calypso is really my favorite of his collections.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Fred Forbes

    Warning to Sedaris fans. This is a collection of previously published essays (save one) selected by him to track his life over the years. In typical Sedaris fashion, many of these essays are tender and respectful, others are like a car wreck you can't take your eyes off, gross and repellent. But what makes him unique is an unusual view of life and an amazing ability to translate both the common and unusual into the written word. So I enjoyed getting reaquainted with some of the ones I had read bef Warning to Sedaris fans. This is a collection of previously published essays (save one) selected by him to track his life over the years. In typical Sedaris fashion, many of these essays are tender and respectful, others are like a car wreck you can't take your eyes off, gross and repellent. But what makes him unique is an unusual view of life and an amazing ability to translate both the common and unusual into the written word. So I enjoyed getting reaquainted with some of the ones I had read before, some of the ones I have forgotten, and some that were new to me. I enjoy coming across a funny line in the middle of seriousness. "For an American, though, Australia seems pretty familiar: same wide streets, same office towers. It's Canada in a thong, or that's the initial impression." So, get on board, meet folks you would probably never encounter, go places you would probably not and get a different perspective on things. At the same time, wrestle along with David and his family issues and relationships common to us all.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Terris

    I so enjoyed listening to David Sedaris read several of his favorite stories (and mine!) from his past books. I have read all his books but had forgotten some of the stories, and enjoyed the ones I remembered all over again! Also, at the end of the book a journalist interviewed him and his answers were interesting and honest. That really topped off the whole book! I loved it!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    Review to follow. . . Need to catch my breath from laughing. ( = p

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