Friday, May 25, 2012

On 'Me Talk Pretty One Day'

Me Talk Pretty One Day is an unexpected treasure. 

I only decided to read it when my sister Joy told me that it's a compilation of autobiographical stories and that the title of the book is also the title of one of the stories about the author's attempts of learning French. Always been a fan of the language, I read the book hoping that it can give me tips. Well, I got none. If anything, I got scared of French teachers. But what I am happy to gain are the fun afternoons I spent smiling, occasionally laughing, by myself while taking a glimpse at David Sedaris' life and the inner workings of his mind. It's either he is just fortunate to be at the right place at the right time--for he finds himself caught in between really interesting situations worth sharing--or he simply has the gift to make a spectacle out of the mundane. Probably both.

I was barely finished with the first half of the stories when I came up with the idea of reading the section where acclaims for the author are written. I thought to myself, "who is this funny guy and how come I have never heard of him before?" The answer struck me even before I'm through with the construction of my question: my ignorance is due to the fact that I am relatively new to the wonderful world of books. But I guess I am knowledgeable enough to identify Woody Allen, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde as remarkable writers. And it so happened that the author David Sedaris is dubbed as our generation's version of these three and many others. To think that my sister bought Me Talk Pretty One Day from Booksale at 127 pesos!!! Oh, a fortunate find, indeed!

Anyway, I got to keep my emotions in check. Must get down to the business of really talking about the book.

The stories in the first half of the book were set in America while the rest, in France. What I got from reading snippets of Sedaris' life is that he has a crazy--and I mean the good kind of crazy--family; that he has experienced different kinds of occupation--from being an assistant to a Colombian miser to being a mover for an Irish communist, from being an undercompensated writing workshop teacher to an artist commissioned to perform by a museum; and that he has a knack of safely avoiding things which makes him uncomfortable, just like the lisp he had in his childhood and the fact that he can't seem to get the gender assignation of French vegetables (to fully understand how he did so, just read the book). But aside from the entertainment derived from his witty storytelling, it can't be denied that there are underlying messages he wants to get across to his readers. General truths that are too common that they are normally taken for granted. His social commentaries are cloaked in such good writing that you won't notice he is already ranting. He's just got a way to get to you.

Read the book because you deserve some hearty laughter.

Rating: 4.5/5

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