Thursday, November 11, 2004


"Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" by David Sedaris
Can I tell you, the first thing I do when I get my New Yorker in the mail is flip to the "contributors" section, to see if David Sedaris has a story in the magazine that week. I have a crush on David Sedaris, and must eliminate his partner Hugh so that I can live together with him in France. That said, "Dress Your Family..." is not among his best (that honor would probably go to "Me Talk Pretty One Day") nor his most innovative--makes me wonder if he's running out of stories from his famously colorful past to write about. However, some of his stories, like "The Ship Shape," have a story of melancholy and adult retrospection that adds a layer of depth that some of his earlier stories lack or skip over. One thing I would suggest for the die-hard Sedaris fan, though, is to get his audio book box set. Especially if you're the type that says, "what the hell is all the big fuss about David Sedaris? I don't think he's that funny at all!" Sedaris reads all his own stories, and does all the own voices (though he occasionally brings sister Amy in to help out with some of the characters). Then you'll get it.

"The Dogs of Babel" by Carolyn Parkhurst
I had no idea whether or not I was going to like this book, because the premise seemed a little fantastical, and I don't know if I like the fantastical. But in the end, I really enjoyed it. It delves a lot into the culture of grief, and it's a mystery at its core, albeit a low-grade mystery. And I like dogs.

"Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi
Despite my aforementioned predilection for medical non-fiction, my favorite books are ones that take you completely into the life of someone in a world completely different from your own. I could never even conceive of what it would be like to live as a child in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, and now I have somewhat of a sense--I would have a childhood both strikingly different and curiously similar to my own. I also admire Satrapi for choosing to write the book as a comic. It would have fared well as a more conventional novel, but is extraordinary in graphic form. A particularly a good for people who liked "Maus".

"McSweeney's Quarterly, 13th ed." from McSweeney's
A great one for the comics enthusiast. Excerpts and short stories from all the best and the brightest, along with several non-graphic pieces about the history of comics in America. And with a cover designed by Chris Ware! Make sure you take it off and unfold it to appreciate the full spread.

"Aching for Beauty" by Wang Ping
Eh, I was interested in the topic of footbinding, but this was a little like reading a textbook. Some interesting analysis and history, but it's not really a story by any means.''

"Found" by Davy Rothbart
A compilation from "Found" magazine. Cute, funny, and very sad in places. Makes me think about the things we throw out, and what kind of picture people could create of me if they went through my cast-offs.

"The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers
I thought this book was boring and abandoned it before finishing. Oh ye of the short attention span.


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