Mrs. ShuGar Reviews: David Sedaris’ “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls”

It’s Friday, lovely readers! Woohoo!

Gosh, I’ve wanted to review David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls for like ever.  As I mentioned ages ago here, Mr. ShuGar and I are part of this fun book club with our dear friends, who also are book nerds.  We go through several steps in the nomination process and we allow any one of us to veto a book at any time.  During the summer, we read the Sedaris book and met to discuss it. I love doing that! It’s amazing just listening to our friends’ insight on how they interpreted the book.  I’ve been wanting to share my review and I have finally found the time to do so.

Let me preface by saving I am a David Sedaris fan.  This writer can write like no other. My favorite book of his is Me Talk Pretty One Day. I was expecting something similar to the aforementioned book, but, unfortunately, I was a little disappointed.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls is a series of short stories about Sedaris’ life encounters, which include memories of his childhood and travel diaries.  You can actually pick up the book and start in any order because the stories don’t lead into each other. Although this was intentional, I was expecting a “story” throughout and that partially explains my disappointment.

Sedaris’ charm is in his unbelievable gift of sarcasm and wit. He has a way of looking at the most mundane parts of life and making you laugh. I had several LOL moments for sure! One of the funniest is when he describes the insane addiction we have to the latest technology, which in his case is keeping up with Apple products, like the Iphone. He says he’s holding out for the Iphone 7 because “I’ve heard on good authority, [it] can also be used as a Taser.” So awesome!

My favorite parts of the book are when he recalls the dysfunctionality in his family, with particular emphasis on his father.  He writes with biting criticism about his dad’s lack of sensitivity when it comes to raising his children. Although it may be a generational gap, Sedaris recalls with pain in his words the meanness of his father.  What is particularly poignant is Sedaris remembering his father’s homophobia and feeling trapped due to his own sexuality.  It’s actually touching and very sad when you read the loneliness Sedaris experienced as a child.

My issue with the book is that it felt choppy throughout. This is partly my fault since, as I have mentioned, I thought it was one story. However, I do feel like Sedaris jumps around with so many story lines and even incorporates third person characters, which confused me a lot. I enjoy when he reflects on his travels of an American in a foreign country, as he did in Me Talk Pretty One Day.  He does do some of that here when he discusses living in Normandy during President Obama’s electoral victory. I wish there was more of that and also more about his relationship with his family.

At one point, he goes into a rather lengthy rant about his travels to China. I felt it had a tinge of an ethnocentric tone that I didn’t find amusing. Also, he later tells the story of a really grotesque taxidermy shop. Really gross. It’s not really my cup of tea.

Overall, I recommend reading it with several caveats.  Sedaris is a truly talented writer and this fact sort of saves this book. However, I would have preferred to have read only a few of his short stories.  It felt a little bit of Sedaris overdose all in one sitting.

Mrs. ShuGar gives Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls 2 out of 5 hearts.

I am happy to share that our book club has chosen our next read! We will be reading the New York Times Bestseller The Round House by Louise Erdrich.  I’ll share my review after we have our bookclub discussion.

Are you reading any good reads? Do you have recommendations you’d like to share? You can help me nominate our next book!

Happy weekend, dear followers!

P.S. The New York Times reviews Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.

Photo credit: David Sedaris Book – Peter Shushtari, The Round House

  • KPsays

    I am an avid reader, but have never read anything by David Sedaris!

    • Definitely worth reading, but I’d recommend “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” Much better than this latest one. Let me know if you get around to reading it!