I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and it’s been so amazing. I think having that stack of books from our recent trip to the Book Barn sitting on our coffee table has really inspired me to start picking up a book instead of scrolling through Facebook whenever I’m taking a break from work. Plus, the warming weather has really gotten me reading outside a lot more, which is lovely.
One book I finished last month was actually a Christmas gift from Eric; a collection of short fictional stories by David Sedaris titled Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. I love David Sedaris (we’ve listened not only to his essays on This American Life, but also have his audiobook Me Talk Pretty Someday and I recently finished reading When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Those are all autobiographical essays and I had heard that Squirrel was an unusual piece of fiction, but for some reason I’d missed the fact that each chapter is a separate story with a completely different message.
All of the characters in this book are talking animals, and many reviews have compared this book to Aesop’s Fables, where the animals act with unsavory human characteristics and usually learn some moral. Squirrel is quite a bit more vulgar than Aesop, and often all of the characters take on very selfish and unlikable attitudes. However, the writing in this book does remind me very much of Sedaris’ nonfiction autobiographical writing. He’s very good at presenting a situation (either involving himself or involving a talking animal) from one point of view and begins to lead you into believing he (or his character) is the hero. But then he’ll flip things, revealing his own unsavory motivations and, ultimately, painting himself in an unattractive light. His self-awareness is striking, as in a way his writing twists itself to point directly back at the reader and how faulty it is that we’ve begun to elevate ourselves above the decisions that the characters are making. Just really brilliant writing.
Keep in mind the vulgarity of this book, not only in language, but also in clear description. There were a few times I lamented reading this book while eating breakfast.