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David Sedaris explores laughter with essays in 'Diabetes with Owls'

Cover of David Sedaris's collection

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris


You'd think it would be easy to review a book as funny as David Sedaris's Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls. The hard part is telling you why he's funny without ruining the joke. In his latest collection of primarily personal essays (as the subtitle says, "Essays, Etc"), the beloved humorist does what he does best--tell us about himself in the most hilarious way possible. He revisits the familiar era of his childhood and takes us with him through the present day. His insights are sharp, if occasionally veering toward crotchety. Even when he's doing his grandpa-style complaints, it suits him. He's hilarious. What else do you want?

Sedaris examines many current issues in his essays. He opens with "Dentists Without Borders," discussing his experience with European socialized medicine among the transition into so-called Obamacare. The short fiction pieces tend to revolve around gay marriage and other gay issues ("If I Ruled the World," for example).

Starting with "Attaboy" we see Sedaris verge into his old-man-isms. Pointing out how parenting has changed from the time he was a child to the present makes for interesting observations, but may not be his strongest piece. A fascinating, if gross "#2 To Go" about David Sedaris's trip to China continues the trend. Instead of bringing insight to Chinese culture, though, this piece feels more like a complaint than an examination.

Humor is, of course, where Sedaris shines, what he is known for. The childhood episode centered around the bookends of a trip to Australia in "Laugh, Kookaburra" might be the strongest piece in this fantastic collection. But it is the surprising, somewhat sentimental "A Guy Walks Into a Bar Car" that not only gives us laughs, but stirs up some deep feelings. The missed connection between David Sedaris and a stranger on a train he calls Bashir almost become something, only to part ways forever. Don't worry. "Bar Car" brings a happy ending.

Bottom Line: Sedaris is always good for a dozen laughs or more. The essays are generally short, and perfect for beach reading. Intellectual and popular at the same time, this would also be great for your book club. When it comes to nonfiction, there's not much better than America's preeminent gay humorist, David Sedaris.

You can find Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls at your local chain bookstore, online or at an independent bookstore near you (click here for a list). Also look for the eBook on your Kindle, Nook, iPad or other reader.