• The Good: Darkly hilarious personal stories by a fantastic memoirist
  • The Bad: Beware any of you who have strong body disgust tendencies
  • The Literary: A master of his craft, these stories are brilliantly told and arranged

In his tenth collection of stories, David Sedaris shares personal, often extremely sad stories that make you laugh out loud. Many of the tales surround the beach house he purchased for himself and his siblings on the Carolina coast, where the family convenes for an annual holiday, playing board games, lounging in the sun, or taking long walks. Two family members are absent and their presence is missed.

Sedaris has potent powers of observation, typically reserved for himself. He shares the mundane, the shallow, the obsessive, and the heartbreaking, and packages it up in these perfect little stories that feel immensely satisfying. A surprising number of his topics touch on aging and mortality, including his 92-year-old father living by himself, his mother’s early death, and his sister’s suicide. But he also shares his experience of going to more and more doctors as he himself ages, including the removal of a benign tumor that he wants to keep and freeze.

There are plenty of funny stories about shopping for ridiculous items in Tokyo with his sisters, obsessing over an increasingly higher and higher number of steps on his fitbit, and sitting behind an old man on an airplane who shits himself. But Sedaris  also shares touching musings on the legalization of gay marriage and his mood following the 2016 presidential election.

I love Sedaris because he is so accessible and raw. He normalizes, or at least verbalizes, internal thoughts and feelings I suspect are universal, ranging from intriguing but disgusting bodily functions, to petty and selfish desires, to surprisingly emotionally powerful struggles with those closest to us.

Highly recommended for fans of humorous, snarky, and honest memoirs!

“I’m often misunderstood at my supermarket in Sussex, not because of my accent but because I tend to deviate from the script.

Cashier: Hello, how are you this evening?
Me: Has your house ever been burgled?
Cashier: What?
Me: Your house—has anyone ever broken into it and stolen things?

With me, people aren’t thinking What did you say? so much as Why are you saying that?