January 31, 2012

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris

It’s not uncommon for me to have more than one book on the go. Different moods call for different reading material. Unless of course, I start reading an amazing novel and am unable to put it down. In those cases, I invest all my attention to that book. 

I find it really difficult to go to sleep without having read at least a few pages of a book. But lately I have been finding myself heading to bed at obscenely late times, and I’m lucky if my husband will let me read a quick page or two before insisting “lights out!” The last thing I want to do is read “a page or two” of a really good book, especially when most chapters are many pages long. (I have issues where I can't stop reading mid-chapter.) Therefore, I always like to have an “easy” read on the go, a book that you can pick up and be satisfied in only reading a few pages. 

Enter: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (DYFCD).  A compilation of personal essays, this is the perfect book for quick bed time reading, where you don’t want to be sucked into the story and end up staying up all night reading. I also have a tendency for reading well past the point of being tired, which ultimately results in my having to backtrack several pages in the book the following night to re-read what I already read, but can’t actually recall. With DYFCD, each chapter (essay) stands alone which makes this the perfect book to just pick up whenever you have a few extra minutes. No recalling necessary! 

This particular book I picked up last fall at a charity book sale a friend was having. Naturally, I couldn’t walk away empty handed and it seemed I had read everything else that was for sale. I’ve never before read anything by David Sedaris, so I cannot compare this piece of work to any of his others and I went in with no expectations. 

That being said, I did expect to laugh more. Not necessarily laugh-out-loud laugh, but at least a little chuckle here and there. If anything, most of the stories made me slightly uncomfortable out of shear embarrassment for Sedaris and his siblings. I also couldn’t stop thinking how if Sedaris were my brother and was writing some of these stories about me, I’d probably never speak to him again! (And maybe they don’t...) The book started out promising. The best (and funniest) story was the first one, in which Sedaris recalls a Halloween from his childhood. On this particular Halloween, one of the families on his block missed it and
proceeded to trick-or-treat on November 1st, oblivious to their error. Sedaris’s mother, not wanting to embarrass these children, hurriedly tells Sedaris and his siblings to go and get some of their own candy. Sedaris is horrified that his own mother would even suggest such a thing:

“...Had I been thinking straight, I would have hidden the most valuable items in my dresser drawer, but instead, panicked by the thought of her hand on my doorknob, I tore off the wrappers and began cramming the candy bars into my mouth, desperately, like someone in a contest. Most were miniature, which made them easier to accommodate, but still there was only so much room, and it was hard to chew and fit more in at the same time. The headache began immediately, and I chalked it up to tension.”

Okay, So I did laugh-out-loud at this point.   In my opinion, some of the best humour and best comedians out there are the ones where we can relate to their jokes/anecdotes. While this was true in the first essay, I quickly found myself unable to find any relevancy in the rest. Had this book been classified more as a memoir as opposed to humour, I may have felt differently about it. People’s lives and often, misfortunes, can be fascinating to read about (think: Glass Castle), but I kept waiting to laugh or come across a part I wanted to read out loud to my husband... it never happened.


  1. I can totally picture your hubby yellin "lights out" and you frantically reading through the last page or two! :)

    1. Haha! I always say "just close your eyes!" And then I make sure to turn the pages really quietly hoping he's forgotten I'm still reading ;)

  2. He needs his own eye mask!! haha

  3. I don't know why it keeps making me comment as "unknown" :( :(