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David Sedaris became a star autobiographer on public radio, onstage in New York, and on bestseller lists, mostly on the strength of "SantaLand Diaries," a scathing, hilarious account of his stint as a Christmas elf at Macy's. (It's in two separate collections, both worth owning,Barrel Feverand the Christmas-themedHolidays on Ice.) Sedaris's caustic gift has not deserted him in his fourth book, which mines poignant comedy from his peculiar childhood in North Carolina, his bizarre career path, and his move with his lover to France. Though his anarchic inclination to digress is his glory, Sedaris does have a theme in these reminiscences: the inability of humans to communicate. The title is his rendition in transliterated English of how he and his fellow students of French in Paris mangle the Gallic language. In the essay "Jesus Shaves," he and his classmates from many nations try to convey the concept of Easter to a Moroccan Muslim. "It is a party for the little boy of God," says one. "Then he be die one day on two... morsels of... lumber," says another. Sedaris muses on the disputes between his Protestant mother and his father, a Greek Orthodox guy whose Easter fell on a different day. Other essays explicate his deep kinship with his eccentric mom and absurd alienation from his IBM-exec dad: "To me, the greatest mystery of science continues to be that a man could father six children who shared absolutely none of his interests."

Every glimpse we get of Sedaris's family and acquaintances delivers laughs and insights. He thwarts his North Carolina speech therapist ("for whom the word pen had two syllables") by cleverly avoiding all words with s sounds, which reveal the lisp she sought to correct. His midget guitar teacher, Mister Mancini, is unaware that Sedaris doesn't share his obsession with breasts, and sings "Light My Fire" all wrong--"as if he were a Webelo scout demanding a match." As a remarkably unqualified teacher at the Art Institute of Chicago, Sedaris had his class watch soap operas and assign "guessays" on what would happen in the next day's episode.

It all adds up to the most distinctively skewed autobiography since Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia. The only possible reason not to read this book is if you'd rather hear the author's intrinsically funny speaking voice narrating his story. In that case, get Me Talk Pretty One Day on audio. --Tim Appelo

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ISBN-10:  0316777722
ISBN-13:  978-0316777728
Author:  David Sedaris
Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company
What's your opinion on Me Talk Pretty One Day?
67 Ratings: +3.6
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More Me Talk Pretty One Day reviews
review by . June 28, 2010
   I used to work the front desk of the YMCA in downtown Knoxville, TN and had the pleasure of meeting David Sedaris. Even though I had no idea it was him. He had called a bit before from his hotel and asked about our pool hours. When he got there we only had about 45 minutes or so left for the pool to stay open. I didn't feel right charging a guest for a day pass when all they wanted was to use the pool for a little while. He was nice guy, but I still had no idea who I was talking …
review by . June 15, 2010
I consider this New York Times bestselling essay collection to be a good book for stress relief for several reasons. Although it’s not an obvious stress management book, it’s an excellent distraction from everyday stresses and provides a good mental break, allowing you to return to your life’s issues with a fresh perspective. This author has a compassionat and humorous approach to life stresses and people's quirks and reading about his struggles can be cathartic to readers …
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
Maybe I need to read more Davide Sedaris, but I really wasn't in love with this book by any means. I finished it out of obligation only.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
Everything written by David Sedaris is gold to me.
Quick Tip by . July 05, 2010
silly, but interesting
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
The only thing better than reading Sedaris is hearing Sedaris read.
Quick Tip by . June 27, 2010
Quick Tip by . June 25, 2010
I love all David Sedaris, but Me Talk Pretty One Day is definitely my favorite. The tales of his (mis)adventures in France are so much fun and especially funny if you've ever felt lost in a foreign language.
review by . January 27, 2008
When David Sedaris is in top form, there is nobody funnier. I think this is his best collection of all - hardly a dud story in the bunch. The "rabbit of easter" story, detailing hilarious misunderstandings in his French class, can make me howl just remembering it.    A very funny writer, at the top of his game. The only thing funnier than reading this book is to hear Sedaris read the stories on tape.
review by . June 04, 2003
As I purchased this book simply because it appears on so many Francophile Amazon.com listamania lists, I prepared myself for a throughly enjoyable and hysterically humorous read based on the 400+ reviews that pumped up the pleasure factor of this book to the almost unrealistic level of master satirist Mark Twain. While the book is funny, I was disappointed to discover that it really was not about France or the French---the essay entitled "Me Talk Pretty One Day", indeed narrates the author's amusing …
Me Talk Pretty One Day
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