For example, I will never forget the half-hour I spent snorting uncontrollably in line at the Montclair Post Office not long after opening ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by David Sedaris (which I have also blogged about here). I’d walked into the PO knowing that I’d be there for at least 30 minutes (it’s always the case), and I hadn’t wanted to stand there empty-handed. So of course I brought a book. If you’ve never read Sedaris, his humor will come as a shock. A pleasant shock, but still a shock. For a moment, as you wait for other people to finish analyzing their stamp options and counting out their fives, tens, and twenties for money orders, you’re thinking, OK, so, he’s writing about the challenges of having a lisp—and then things start to happen. And happen. And happen. “Piling on” is how I think of The Sedaris Approach. He adds more and more details until you start to think that if he adds one more sentence you just might wet your pants. And now, all at once, people are staring at you because you are the only person hunched over and laughing so hard that you can’t stop crying.
Such was the case for me again the other day on a plane bound for Texas. I cracked open Sedaris’s latest, a collection whose title sounds like an inside joke (and probably is because, let’s face it, he’s had so many bestsellers he could call his books ANYTHING and they would sell; in fact, that’s probably what he’ll call his next book: “Anything”), and not long after I calmly began to read it, suddenly I came upon “Attaboy,” a piece about how his father reacted one time after someone called his mother a bitch. I don’t want to give too much away, but the part about the “ice cream” caused the poor man sitting next to me on the plane to awaken from a serious nap. He stared in confusion as I hunted frantically for some tissues.
What could I say? Sedaris got me again.