Book Review: Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris (4/5)

12 Jun

I enjoy listening to some comedy from time to time. I couldn’t stand waiting for this eaudiobook any longer so I got the CD version to listen to in my car. It took me a little longer than normal to get through it, but I’m glad I listened to it. I own a copy of this book and have it signed by Sedaris.

Cover image via Goodreads

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

Summary from Goodreads:

David Sedaris plays in the snow with his sisters. He goes on vacation with his family. He gets a job selling drinks. He attends his brother’s wedding. He mops his sister’s floor. He gives directions to a lost traveler. He eats a hamburger. He has his blood sugar tested. It all sounds so normal, doesn’t it? In this collection of essays, Sedaris lifts the corner of ordinary life, revealing the absurdity teeming below its surface. His world is alive with obscure desires and hidden motives–a world where forgiveness is automatic and an argument can be the highest form of love. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is another unforgettable collection from one of the wittiest and most original writers at work today.

I have an odd relationship with Sedaris. I first tried reading his book Me Talk Pretty One Day in college and I couldn’t stand it. I returned it to the library without finishing it which is something I’d never done before. Two years later, I hated that I never finished it and got the audiobook and finished the book, loving it. I met David Sedaris three years ago and found him warm and welcoming. This is one of his books that I had signed and he was impressed with the long line of people he met. I knew what I was getting into with this book and I think that helped me enjoy it from the get-go. Sedaris narrated this one himself which helps a lot. Hearing him make fun of his brother’s accent or the emphasis he places on his disgust of his sister’s apartment is great. I really recommend his books on audio to anyone wanting to try Sedaris for the first time.

I love the way he portrays his family. You can tell he feels like a bit of an outcast amongst them and as different as he is, they still love him beyond reason. It’s great to hear him talk about his mother and how much he loved her. I enjoyed the stories about his siblings a lot, too. He never gets too deeply into his partner, Hugh, and how he feels about him. I can only think of one story that mentions their quarreling. I think Sedaris portrays his family in very realistic ways because as much as they may seem like caricatures, they’re consistent from book to book and none of them have come forward publicly denouncing him yet.

Paul was my favorite and the story about his daughter being born was amazingly funny and heart-wrenching. He has a heart of gold, it’s easy to see and really cared for his wife and daughter. Sedaris made a comment about how often Paul calls that really stuck with me and talk of how much he loves his siblings and father. I could tell there was a huge age gap between Paul and David that meant they were never that close, but I wish there could have been more about Paul in Sedaris’s childhood stories.

I think Sedaris’s family stories are so relatable because we’re all embarrassed by our families at one time or another. I work at the same company as my mother and spend about 20% of my time trying not to embarrass her by my own actions. It’s a very universal feeling, especially as a kid which is why I suspect so many of Sedaris’s stories are from his childhood.

My signed copy of the book.

My favorite story was Six to Eight Black Men. It talked about cultural differences, focusing on Christmas traditions between America and the Netherlands. Sedaris has this great sense of humor and vividness to make American traditions sound just as outrageous as the Dutch ones and poke fun at both. He also taught me that in my home state of Michigan, the legally blind can hunt alone. I have to say, I’m not at all surprised but I wonder if this is still true.

It’s hard to say if I disliked any of the stories but there were some with more dark humor than I was comfortable with. Monie Changes Everything comes to mind. David’s family gained a lot from Aunt Monie but he seems to not care much for her, even when he went to see her. It was a little too dark for me.

Sedaris narrating the book himself was perfect. Like I said before, it changed how I perceived the whole story the first time I listened to him. There were two stories recorded live and played back for the recording which was even better. Sometimes, Sedaris wouldn’t pause after something funny and if I laughed too hard, I’d miss the next bit. In the live recordings, he pauses to let the crowd laugh and then I didn’t feel as silly laughing alone in my car. There were recorded voices of hundreds of others joining me.

Sedaris is very different from the rest of his family but they all accept and love each other. I think that’s the most important thing he tells his readers. No matter what, we all need to love our families because we never know how far away we’ll end up or how long they’ll be with us.

Writer’s Takeaway: Sedaris does a great job poking fun at himself. It can be hard to admit your flaws or when you mess up but he does it humbly and it makes for a really fun read.

A great laugh. I made my husband listen to one of the stories before we returned it. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts:
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim – David Sedaris | Lorannkay
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Demin by David Sedaris | Emilia Lives Life
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris | Imperfect Happiness
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris | Books j’adore


2 Responses to “Book Review: Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris (4/5)”

  1. Laurel-Rain Snow June 12, 2017 at 11:08 AM #

    I don’t listen to audiobooks, and can’t imagine doing so. Did you stress the recommendation for audio because his writing is “bad”? Or because you like his narration better than his writing?

    I’ve been wanting to read this author….but not listen. It takes too long to listen to a book, and I don’t have any commutes or road trips ahead. LOL. Thanks for sharing.


    • Sam June 12, 2017 at 1:22 PM #

      I found his humor hard to ‘read.’ Sedaris is very sarcastic and I didn’t get that as well when reading his books. The tone of his voice helped me see the humor in his writing a lot better. His writing is in no way bad, just funnier when read aloud. Happy reading!


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