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Me Talk Pretty One Day

Posted by Dreamer

A series of humorous autobiographical essays, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris paints a gut-wrenchingly funny portrait of a man too witty and too neurotic for his own good. 

I have a small confession to make. When I used to teach English sometimes I would bring in the chapter from Me Talk Pretty One Day entitled “Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist” – Sedaris’s absurd autobiographical ode to art and drugs.

Sitting around a conference table with a group of Spanish businessmen or civil servants, I would ask them to take turns reading aloud. As we would get further into the text their eyes would grow wider as if there must have been a mistake somewhere, as if the text simply could not have contained what they suspect they just read. And then the uncontrollable laughter would come, followed by quick looks around the room as if to ask, “Is it okay to laugh?”

I would assure them that it was indeed okay to laugh, and then there was no stopping them. Perhaps asking them to read about Sedaris’s comic manic compulsions and drug incursions was inappropriate (how many Directors of Studies would approve?), but, without fail, by the end of the lesson class morale and enthusiasm for the English language was never higher – a smashing success as far as any teacher is concerned.

Now I’m certainly not suggesting that English teachers go out and foist the book on unsuspecting Spanish audiences only guilty of having a high enough level of English to be able to take it, but simply considering the fact that Me Talk Pretty One Day could shock a group of blasé Spanish businessmen into hysterical laughter at 8 am in the morning, I have to give the book its due props. 

Me Talk Pretty One Day takes us from Sedaris’s childhood in North Carolina to his middle-aged expat-dom in France, but, surprisingly, his juvenile American adventures are funnier than the latter. As any expat knows, the expatriate experience is rife with funny moments and not-so-funny moments that then often become quite humorous when considered later on. That said, in the second (expat) part of the book Sedaris, at times, seems to be reaching a bit too much in his search for comic effect, but by that point, the problem is more a function of part one having been so absurdly hysterical that the disappointment rather comes from Sedaris not being able to sustain the reader’s expectations straight through to the end. But c’est la vie, I guess, because the bulk of Sedaris’s romps are unrepentantly funny.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. Back Bay Books, 2001. 272 pages.
Buy the book in Europe or buy the book in North America.


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11/May/2010:
Blue7 said:

Funny enough my Polish wife is reading that book now! She likes it too. There is an intelligence to this site that i am responding to. Nice work you guys. I just signed up and one day Me Talk Spanish Pretty One Day.

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A series of humorous autobiographical essays, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris paints a gut-wrenchingly funny portrait of a man too witty and too neurotic for his own good. 

Me Talk Pretty One Day

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On Me Talk Pretty One Day, Blue7 said:

"

Funny enough my Polish wife is reading that book now! She likes it too. There is an intelligence to this site that i am responding to. Nice work you guys. I just signed up and one day Me Talk Spanish Pretty One Day.

"


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