When I started listening to David Sadaris’ Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, I felt like asking, “Where has this guy been all my life?” In defense of Sadaris, he’s been on my radar for years, I’ve just never taken the time to pick him up. And maybe I’m glad I waited for this opportunity because listening to him read these episodes about his life was hysterical.
Let me back up a bit. This piece is a collection of autobiographical essays – episodes from Sadaris’ life as a gay, white, Southern, Greek male, being raised by a possibly mentally ill mother with three sisters and a brother who is as polar opposite from the author as possible to still have the same DNA. The stories are sometimes funny – sometimes bittersweet, but always truthful and illustrate that amidst dysfunction and dissidence, love is a stronger currant in life.
However, these stories aren’t for everyone. Sadaris can be crude (especially when quoting his brother) and the topics may by uncomfortable for some (like his coming of age story that ends with a young friend sitting naked on his lap). But if you think you can get through that, these stories are very entertaining and only mildly disturbing – paraphrased “There are many things that can happen to little girls – like electrical fires for one,” Sadaris thinks of the children his landlord is saving his beloved flat for.
Listening to these, I do feel a bit sorry for his siblings. While parents are open game for humor (sorry Mom!), siblings are as much a victim of upbringing as the author – until a certain age, I guess.
I may have to retract what I’ve said in the past about listening to books read by authors. It seems I’ve been wrong lately and this is one such case. Sadaris’ monotone, dead-pan intonation is the perfect understatement for his dry wit and exceptionally humorous way of seeing the world.
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