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“When the sun came up I would bury my dead and fill the empty bucket with hydrangeas, a bit of life and color, so perfect for the table. So pleasing to the eye.”
David Sedaris’ book Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denimwas absolute chaos, beautiful chaos, worth putting for on your bookshelves and reading over and over.
Sedaris is a creative non-fiction author, who has gotten himself quite famous but also found a lot of trouble by doing so. While all families have their gripes with each other, the Sedaris family seems to fear and even avoid their celebrity writer relative, in constant worry and slight annoyance that he might unleash another one of their embarrassing moments, or hardest struggles. Sedaris was blessed with a terrifyingly average American family. Like all families (despite their denial), there is the overly concerned yet loving mother, the hard to please and easy to disappoint father, the bratty younger siblings, the wild and uncontrollable older siblings, dating, childbirth, public education, sports, vacations, snow-days, cleaning, weird neighbors and to top it off, David Sedaris is gay.
These real-life moments are what make Sedaris’ book such a great read; In fact, he is a national bestseller. One chapter (or rather short-story) will be expressing a time when his dad offered to buy the family a beach house, and you are just as excited as all the Sedaris children are, and then just as disappointed and even angry when they are let down. Then, the next chapter could have you laughing about a funny incident where David Sedaris’ mom made him give his hard-earned Halloween candy to other trick-or-treating kids. The book pulls its readers from one life moment to the next, leaving no harsh detail behind.
However, what truly makes Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim a fantastic compilation, is not his overexposed family and the passionate stories of struggles and grace, but rather the way Sedaris never leaves his story in the air. No matter how long the amount of time the story covers (i.e. minutes, hours, days), the ending always pulls it down an anchors it. Every last sentence is followed by a sigh, or a nod, or even a curt laugh from his readers.
He has this ability to make seemingly mundane things beautiful, interesting and full of importance. Often times his completed tale will express some greater life lesson, experience or moral through wittingly crafted word choice and diction. For instance, the last line from his story “Put a Lid On It” commenting on his complicated and often exasperating relationship with his sister Tiffany, “Then I fill the sink with hot, soapy water, roll up my shirtsleeves, and start saving her life.”