A four arm read

There are books that are funny, and then there are the books that need at least 4 arms - one to cling to the sofa, one to wipe away the tears that are pouring down your face, one to clutch your ribs, and one to check that your doctor is on speed-dial because it really can't be good to laugh this helplessly.

The 4-arm read comes along rarely, but is all the more special because of that. Such a book is David Sedaris' wonderfully titled Let's explore diabetes with owls. I picked up the book partly because I have a bit of a thing for weirdly titled books. Have an odd enough title and I will at least give it a browse, have an author that friends have raved about, and it's guaranteed a read.

David Sedaris has been recommended to me by loads of people. Quite why I left it so late to read him, I don't know, but he is now elevated to my near-God-like-author status, as his work is, without doubt, one of the funniest things I have ever read.

Let's explore..... is a set of 26 short essays. Most are Sedaris' own, somewhat exaggerated, musings on the world with recollections of his childhood, his eccentric family, his day-to-day life. There's also some satirical glances at American politics (fellow-Brits take note, Americans can do irony), and a set of dog-related poetry. None are about diabetes, although there are visits to the dentist and the proctologist; and the only owls featured are deceased.....and probably Victorian.

Essays range from the more serious, all delivered in a wonderfully comic tone - I muttered "I quite agree" through Sedaris' rant about the problems of litter in the British countryside, and had another mutter about the grumpiness of British passport control in response to David's own difficulties following the theft of his passport and permission to stay - to the out-and-out hilarious - my ribs still haven't recovered from Sedaris' take on the perils of making love using a phrasebook. And then there's the issue of taxidermy and political correctness.....

The more scathing essays are all the more powerful for their contrast with Sedaris' usual tone. He is wildly funny, big on irony, but there is a warm heart to much of his writing. A writer who gives you a cuddle while making you laugh uncontrollably. A complete tonic. As he now spends a lot of time in Britain, I think he should be prescribed on the NHS. The very wonderful David Sedaris.


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