David Sedaris is a brilliant writer. He works are hilarious, but also have a quality of sadness to them. However, at times, Sedaris does not create this poignant feeling in his narratives. There are three stories from his book, Naked, that fail to have this deeper understanding.
In A Plague of Tics, Sedaris describes his childhood of obsessively and repeatedly licking light switches, counting steps, touching telephone poles, jabbing mailboxes, and rocking back and forth, not because he wanted to but "because nothing was worse than the anguish of not doing them” (9). Instead of focusing on how this disorder affected him negatively, he writes about it in a very humorous way. Two sentences are illustrative. “ ‘That is Miss Chestnut’s light switch, and she likes to keep it dry. Would you like me to come over to your house and put my tongue on your light switches?’ ” (7). “It had come out of nowhere, my desperate urge to summon high-pitched noises from the back of my throat… ‘Eeeeeeee – ummmmmmmmmm – ahhhh – ahhh – meeeeeeee’ ” (17). Looking back on his or her childhood years, almost every person can find an awkward moment. And Sedaris seems to find the most embarrassing and painful ones and make them plainly and unabashedly comical. Sedaris just never addresses the pain in this part of his life. Instead, he makes it laughable.
In the short story, Next of Kin, Sedaris writes about finding a pornographic book as a child. In the book there are many instances of incest. But instead of making these acts the main focus of the story, Sedaris directs the reader’s attention to the spelling errors of the pornography book, which is what makes this story funny. For example, “In the opening chapter the daughter is caught with her brother’s ceck in her pissy, calling out ‘feck me hard, hardir’. When on page thirty-three the son has sex with his mother, he leaves the woman’s ‘tots glistening with jasm’ ” (41). If you take out the spelling errors, the passage wouldn’t nearly...
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