Sedaris transforms his satiric style

By Diana Campeggio
September 20, 2011

When I finally got my hands on David Sedaris’ newest book, “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiality,” I was ultimately very confused, yet intrigued, by the concept of the book.   Sedaris is known for his satirical stories about his awkward childhood and adolesence, his unique family and his experiences with his partner, Hugh, but not cute animals.

To top it all off, the book was illustrated like a children’s book with a drawing for each chapter.  However, upon reading the first several chapters of the book, you begin to realize what Sedaris is trying to accomplish here. And it sure is silly.

If placed into a category, Sedaris’ book falls into short stories, but they seem to be more like fables with a severe twist.  In the classic sense, fables have a moral sensibility about them.  You know, the boy who cried wolf or the hare and the tortoise, these fables all have great, wholesome morals that end the story.

But for Sedaris, his characters don’t learn lessons about a fantasy life where everything works out in the end.  They learn about real life.  That sometimes you need to lie to make people happy, or that certain people are just going to piss you off no matter how hard you try to be friendly towards them.  The creatures in this book take on human personalities and characteristics and they interact as people in Sedaris’ other books act.  All illustrated by best-selling children illustrator Ian Falconer.

For me, I hear Sedaris’ little nasally voice narrating the entire book.  Though the characters are different and strange, his style of writing holds up throughout.  The writing is snappy and edgy (as well as wickedly funny), and he portrays his characters for the real people they are deep down inside.

The Baboon hairstylist complains to his kitty client, “Sure you did [write your own vows], but you probably had something to say, not like these marsh rabbits, carrying on that their love was like a tender sapling or some damn thing.”

The creatures in this book provide an escape for Sedaris to talk about the people in his life, though he has never shied of doing this in previous stories that delve into the lives of his family and friends.  But as you read, you get the sense the Baboon hairstylist in the first chapter is probably the person that cuts his hair.

Sedaris also tries to put human issues into perspective with the content of this book.  The squirrel and the chipmunk (who are lovingly illustrated on the cover of the book) are dating and from a different breed of rodent. Talk about scandalous.

This book seems to be a way for him to spice up his writing career, and for me, it works completely.  You understand that Sedaris is not serious, I mean, is he really ever completely serious about anything he writes? I think not.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Diana Campeggio

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Special Project

Title IX Redefined Website

Produced by Cabrini Communication
Class of 2024

Listen Up

Season 2, Episode 3: Celebrating Cabrini and Digging into its Past


Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap