reviews

Book review: Let’s Discuss Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris

What I appreciate most about Sedaris is his willingness to tell uncomfortable stories about himself. Stories that are not at all flattering to him, but tell very real human truths.

One of my favorite things: the way Sedaris says “homosexual,” when imitating a homophobic character.

What made me laugh out loud:

That’s when I learned that it’s illegal to own [taxidermy owls] in the United States. Even if one dies naturally of a stroke or old age. If it chokes on a mouse or gets kicked by a horse. Should one fly against your house, break its neck, and land like magic on your front stoop, you’re still not allowed to stuff it or even to store its body in your freezer. Technically, you’re not even allowed to keep one of its feathers — that’s how protected they are. I learned this at a now-defunct taxidermy shop in midtown Manhattan. “But if you’re really interested,” the clerk I spoke to said, “I’ve got a little something you might want to see.” He stepped into the back room and returned with what I could only identify as a creature. “What we’ve done,” he boasted, “is stretch a chicken over an owl form.”

*

German is like English, but sideways.

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Australia is like Canada wearing a thong.

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[when he’s out shopping with his brother-in-law and buys a bulk package of condoms at Costco, to distribute on his upcoming book tour]

Putting them in the cart, I thought nothing of it, but a moment later, walking down the aisle with my fifty-nine-year-old brother-in-law, I started feeling patently, almost titanically gay. Maybe I was imagining things, but it seemed as if people were staring at us — people in families, mostly, led by thrifty and disapproving parents who looked at what we were buying and narrowed their eyes in judgment. You homosexuals, their faces seemed to say. Is that all you ever think about?

My brother-in-law is around my height, with thick, graying hair, a matching mustache, and squarish wire-rimmed glasses. I’d never imagined him as gay, much less as my boyfriend, but now I couldn’t stop. “We’ve got to get something else in this cart,” I told him.

Bob disappeared into the acreage reserved for produce and returned a minute later with a four-pound box of strawberries. This somehow made us look even gayer. “After anal sex, we like shortcake!” read the cartoon bubble now floating over our heads.

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