Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

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Whether by nature or by nurture, Ma and Pa Sedaris certainly knew something about raising funny kids. Amy Sedaris has built a cult following for her Comedy Central character Jerri Blank, and David, the more famous of the two siblings, continues to spin his personal history into comedic gold. A good chunk of the material in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim debuted in other media outlets, such as The New Yorker, but Sedaris's brilliantly written essays deserve repeat reads.

Based on the author's descriptions, nearly every member of his family is funny, although some (like sister Tiffany, perhaps) in a tragic way. In "The Change in Me," Sedaris remembers that his mother was good at imitating people when it helped drive home her point. High-voiced, lovably plain-spoken brother Paul (aka The Rooster, Silly P) has long been a favorite character for Sedaris readers, though Paul's story takes on a serious note when his wife has a difficult pregnancy. The author doesn't shy away from embarrassing moments in his own life, either, including a childhood poker game that strays into strange, psychological territory. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim provides more evidence that he is a great humorist, memoirist, and raconteur, and readers are lucky to have the opportunity to know him (and his clan) so well. His funny family feels like our own. Perhaps they are luckier still not to know him personally. --Leah Weathersby

It just isn't fair: most of us would be lucky to be able to express ourselves in writing half as well as David Sedaris does in his new book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. But on top of his skills with the written word, the author also has substantial gifts as a performer, and he proves this on the audio version of the book. In his essay The Change in Me,Sedaris remembers that his mother was good at imitating people, and it's clear that he takes after her. Whether he's doing impressions of high-voiced brother Paul, or recalling times when he and his sisters tried to win good karma by speaking and acting like well-behaved, fairytale children, Sedaris's nuanced performance hits the right note on both the opening, comedic stories, and the more poignant essays that tend to come later in the reading. In fact, for those who have already read some of the best stories in other publications including The New Yorker, the CD or cassette version of this collection is probably the best bet for furthering your appreciation of the material.Sedaris's career is closely linked with two things: audio (he was discovered by NPR's Ira Glass), and the personal lives of himself and his family. In Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, he describes fights with his boyfriend, and his sister-in-law's difficult pregnancy. When sister Lisa complains about the stories involving the family, he writes about that, too. Sedaris's latest provides more evidence that he is a great humorist, memoirist and raconteur, and readers are lucky to have the opportunity to know him so well. Perhaps they are luckier still not to know him personally. --Leah Weathersby

Customer Reviews:

  • Funniest book I ever read!
    This is the first David Sedaris book I ever read, and after reading his other books, this is still my favorite. The best story is "six to eight black men". I can't even tell people about that story without laughing so hard that I have tears in my eyes. I was often reading this book while in a public place, and it caused the awkward situation of laughing out loud in public! ...more info
  • Great Read
    I have read Six to Eight Black Men again and again. I laugh every single time. Great wit, great for a rainy day. I just started Naked and feel the same!...more info
  • So so
    This installment of the Sedaris family saga is not nearly as good as "Naked" or "Me Talk Pretty One Day", which are both absolutely brilliant. The book has its moments, but some of the essays are actually dull. And the ones involving his disgusting (sorry, David) brother Paul are simply gross. Some of the graphic descriptions and language go a bit overboard....more info
  • WARNING: Don't Read In A Public Place!
    Why? Because you'll be laughing so hard that people will stare at you. This is one of the funniest books ever. I read it while I ate lunch at a restaurant and laughed so hard I cried!

    A Must-Read!...more info
  • Love It
    There couldn't possibly be a funnier man on the planet. Wait, I love Stephen Colbert!...more info
  • Please enter a title for your review
    This book, and I assume the rest of the author's work, is enjoyable primarily for it's informal style, and seemingly obvious although rare deducation that focus on heroism or tragedy isn't necessary for interesting memoir writing. Although it was more often entertaining than not the book still left me thinking that if more people wrote books like this Sedaris would probably not be a frontrunner in the genre. 3? stars....more info
  • Fashion Forward
    David Sedaris puts things in writing that aren't discussed in polite company but ring true to everyone. And sometimes he tells polite, but amusing tales too. What insight....more info
  • Laughing it Off
    Laughing at oneself is laudable, while laughing in general has been proven to increase overall health. After pulling funny-man David Sedaris' collection of 22 autobiographical short stories, "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim," off my bookshelf after a two-year stay, I expected to laugh heartily. I hadn't considered the life events he would make funny would often be more disturbing and awkward versions of the self-deprecation that I'd been laughing off for years. As critic Shandy Casteel writes, "His stories, while always plausibly crafted, accentuate the absurdities that seem to transpire around him with every breath and every step" ("Dressing Before the Funhouse Mirror").

    As if he's sitting across from you at a dinner party, Sedaris' stories are told with natural simplicity and clarity. Each story, joke and punch line flows with an odd spontaneity, as if he hadn't given it much thought until writing it at that moment. With witty and punching prose, Sedaris is a master at his craft. He doesn't knock the reader out with fancy punctuation or big words when a diminutive one would do. He doesn't over assert his intelligence or writing ability. He writes clearly about the mundanity of life: hoarding Halloween candy as a child, house shopping, and being a house cleaner and having the man strip down before you. Yeah, OK, that last one has never happened to me, either, but he excels at knowing exactly how much to say on a topic and where to end for the optimal punch. It's universal truths he extracts from his quirky family, neighbors and situations, which often left me smiling and thinking, Why didn't I think of that?

    Spanning from his childhood in Raleigh, North Carolina, to present day in France with partner Hugh, the stories are placed in chronological order. One of the collection's first stories, "Us and Them," is a brilliant view of family dynamics and childhood Halloween-candy greed. Pointing out one of the many odd truisms he extracts from his stories, Sedaris writes, "Asking for candy on Halloween was called trick-or-treating, but asking for candy on November first was called begging, and it made people uncomfortable. This was one of the things you were supposed to learn simply by being alive, and it angered me that the Tomkeys did not understand that" (8). In "The Ship Shape," a story in which the Sedaris' consider purchasing a second home, young David and his mother spend the day repeating a woman's comment to a Korean dry cleaner, who "nodded, the way you do when you're a foreigner and understand that someone has finished a sentence" (17). Sedaris masterfully extracts the nuggets of truth in life, but sometimes he crosses the imaginary line.

    While the collection has received widespread acclaim for its humor, I crossed the threshold of page 200 before I really threw my head back in laughter. During most of the book, I found myself twisting my face, or at most, giving a gentle giggle at his always surprising wit. Many of Sedaris' stories are well intentioned, but often disturbing in their content. In "Full House," young Sedaris, a budding adolescent and homosexual, is invited to an all-male sleepover. While winning Strip Poker, he makes a fully naked boy sit on his lap as further punishment: "'Hey,' I told him, `I'm the one who's going to be suffering. I was just looking for something easy'" (40). In an equally awkward, yet more serious story, "The Girl Next Door," Sedaris unwittingly becomes an unpaid babysitter for his neighbors' daughter until she begins to steal from him. The young girl retaliates to his tattle telling by writing slanderous comments on his stuff and calling him a "Faggot" when he walks by. Sedaris' mother urges him to move out, fearing false molestation charges. Remaining likeable as a writer and character, Sedaris sometimes wiggles into areas too serious to be funny, which causes the reader to squirm.

    "Blood Work," the collections' most awkward disturbing story, recounts Sedaris' days of working as a house cleaner. When called by a man who unwittingly switched Sedaris' number for an erotic housecleaning service, the man undresses before him and performs tasteless acts, while Sedaris cleans the house. While his attempt to turn the awkward into amusing is laudable, it never came to fruition in my taste.

    The book's highlight characters are his family: his sister Amy, who asks if the passenger dog is OK when a car crashes, and his foul-mouth brother Paul, whose language is so explicit and shocking it's hilarious. I have an aversion to comedians who use cursing as a cheap cop-out for laughs, but Paul isn't a comedian. (Quoting him wouldn't be very family friendly, so I'll refrain.) On using his family as the memorable characters in his books, Sedaris writes, "In my mind, I'm like a friendly junkman, building things from the little pieces of scrap I find here and there, but my family's started to see things differently. Their personal lives are the so-called pieces of scrap I so casually pick up." And how does his family feel about his use of their life, privacy and sorrow: "They're sick of it." It's reasonable of them, but they're just too quirky too not to share.

    While I wasn't doubled over laughing throughout the book, I may have expected too much. On a second reflection of "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim," I like smirking, or even just wincing, at other people's awkward moments. Maybe I'll read one of Sedaris' other books--for my health, of course.

    ...more info
  • Hilarious
    I read this book while driving from southern cali to central cali. It was so hilarious that I ended up reading chapters out loud to my husband. I love Sedaris' sense of humor about his family and was also able to put the pieces together about his family from other memoirs he's written. He is a gem....more info
  • And you thought your family was odd
    David Sedaris' take on life is just a little left of center. He is droll and entertaining in this collection of stories that mostly focus on his family's loony adventures and skewed sense of the world. I'm really glad he is not my brother because the man has no mercy in his depictions of his sisters, brother and parents. No one escape's unscathed, not his boyfriend Hugh or their eighty year old neighbor or David himself.

    Some of the stories are laugh out loud funny, others are more than a little gross, but like a bad accident you can't help but look (or read). I have to say that my first book by Sedaris was When You are Engulfed in Flames, and it was an audio. As much as I enjoyed reading this book, I realize that something is lost when reading this as opposed to listening, and it is Sedaris' inflections and pauses and dry tone that make him such a great storyteller. So I liked it a lot- but would have loved to listen to it....more info
  • Love Sedaris!
    I have now read all of Sedaris' books (just finished dress your family in Corduroy and Denim), and I have loved them all. They are great coming of age type of stories for any orientation and very funny. not just gay literature -- just funny literature. Not quite as funny as "Running with Scissors," but probably more poignant and identifiable to more of us. Running with Scissors is hilarious, but seems out of this world. Sedaris as 99% as funny, but much more identifiable to us and seems much more like a family member of ours gone awry in a funny, funny way. Plus, we all know that if our siblings were to rant about us, we'd be characters in a book like Sedaris' too! I highly recommend this. Quick read, and very, very good!...more info
  • Sedaris
    Sedaris is hillarious. The book is a compilation of short storis of his family and life history. If anyone is an Amy Sedaris fan and wonders how she could be so eccentric than read anything by any of the Sedaris'.

    "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim," makes an entertaining leisure read. I reccomned it!...more info
  • Who ever gave this less than 5 stars is an idiot
    I quote this book more than I quote seinfield. I have become addicted to it, to David's twisted use of the English language. I have read all of his other books, and I highly recommend his cds. ...more info
  • Well dressed writing
    David Sedaris opens up his family album to allow us to wander through the pages of someone else's history. I appreciate my own family more, now that I've read David Sedaris' musings. Wisdom comes in many disguises, in this case it came decked out in corduroy and denim. I ended up asking myself, "What is normal life? " after reading this book. Surely the aim of any writer is to inspire their readers to ask questions. Sadly, I haven't found the asnswer, but I continue to ask. ...more info
  • Lovin' Sedaris
    This was the first David Sedaris book I ever read. After reading this book I bought and read three other books of his. This one has turned out to be my most favorite. Once you start reading you won't want to put down. Sedaris will have you laughing over and over again with his bizarre and intriguing memoir. If you read only one Sedaris book ever, choose Corduroy and Denim. ...more info
  • Audio CD review: he narrates his essays himself and it makes it even funnier
    I had read the Barrel essays and loved them. I bought the audio CD for this book, and was nervous that someone speaking out loud was not going to be as entertaining as reading the essays myself. Turns out they are even funnier when Sedaris reads them!

    Not every story is funny, and I agree some are a bit graphic and/or boring, but there are some hysterical, laugh out loud pieces in here, and I suspect you will find some stories you can play over and over again during future car trips. My favorite was the one about the family that had no idea how to behave in society because they did not watch televison. Another favorite was the woman with two houses.

    Note for Dave Sedaris fans: This audio CD contains many, many stories that are not on the Dave Sedaris compilation audio CD set. I think that one runs $50 dollars or so these days. I bought that and was disappointed to discover that the compilation CD is definitely one which must be a "best of" set from his other audio CD books. In retrospect, I would buy each audio CD book separately to ensure I get all the stories. ...more info
  • pretentious garbage
    i tried reading it, and made it about 3-4 pages. i'm pretty sure that's a bad sign. i seem to recall mr. sedaris writing about his mother's bedpan or something. the impression i instantly got was "BEEP BEEP! PRETENTIOUS YOUNG WRITER PEDDLING SO-CALLED BAD CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES FOR FAME, MONEY AND SYMPATHY." guess what, mr. sedaris? i don't give a (expletive deleted) about your so-called bad childhood. millions of people have bad childhoods and don't play the sympathy card. check out augusten burrough's books, they manage to have humor and touching moments without this kind of pretentious style. ...more info
  • Defines Droll
    I have long delighted in David Sedaris's pieces in The New Yorker and on "This American Life." His humor is edgy, but--and granted this will seem contradictory--there is something familiar and down-to-earth to it. Perhaps this is because it's like the aphorism popularized by Homer Simpson: "It's funny 'cause it's true."

    Sedaris's stories mostly revolve around his family, now and when growing up, as well as his partner, Hugh. His family's interrelationships often seem disfunctional, but like the Simpson family, the abuse they heap upon one another is just another way of saying "I love you." It's sometimes painful to watch, even if one is also amused by their interaction.

    Wouldn't anyone be just a little uncomfortable reading how (in "Let It Snow") the Sedaris children, locked out of their house by their mother, decided to sacrifice their youngest sibling by having her lie down in the middle of the road--all for the ultimate purpose of making their mom feel bad? And yet, Sedaris makes this funny: "Poor Tiffany: She'd do just about anything in return for a little affection.... When we asked her to lie in the middle of the street, her only question was 'Where?'" (Don't worry, Tiffany lives--to become the stuff of another story.)

    Aside from the humor, one reads Sedaris because he's just so literate, so good at story telling. He has a real gift with capturing a moment, particularly in the dialogue. His reminiscences of his mother are particularly touching and funny. I'm reminded of the line in the play/movie "Same Time Next Year" when Doris says that she has fallen in love with Helen, the wife of her lover, George: We hear these wonderful stories about her and fall in love with her.

    Sedaris at times takes a labyrinthine route in tracing a course of events. "Nuit of the Living Dead" is a good example of this. You sort of wonder where the story's going (zombies? rats? burglars starving to death in chimneys? ungrateful children?), but you don't really mind because you're amused all along the way. Another example is the first story, "Us and Them," which originally appeared in The New Yorker. It's a hilarious story which, though focused at first on the strangeness of a family that doesn't watch TV but actually talks at the dinner table (Mon Dieu!), turns on one particular encounter with this family: having been away at camp, they show up at the Sedaris door trick-or-treating the day *after* Halloween. This is one of the laugh-out-loud moments of the book, when Sedaris, ordered by his mom to get some piece of candy from his previous night's stash, sequesters himself in his room to gorge himself on sweets, sitting on his bed with chocolate oozing from his mouth while he develops a headache (because he's allergic to chocolate), all to deny the silly twits from across the street his candy.

    Sedaris's stories might not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you enjoy fresh writing, bizarre situations, and a good, warm laugh, Sedaris will not disappoint....more info
  • Pleasingly Funny
    This was the first book of David's which I read. It came as a recommendation from a friend. I found myself unable to put it down. Most people will easily relate to the stories of his childhood. I highly recommend this as a first book if you have never had the privilege of experiencing David Sedaris. ...more info
  • Brilliant, but a little too dirty for my taste
    Again, David Sedaris proves that he is one of the best writers out there. He is a brilliant story teller and is so engaging. That's why I was very sad to have to put it back on my bookshelf about half-way through. Some of the stories are just too sexual and over the top that I found that I should not continue to read. I cannot compliment him enough for his talent; I just wish he would tone it down a bit for those of us who want more of a clean read....more info
  • highly entertaining personal history
    A Curious collection of stories and musing drawn from the life of David Sedaris. This book is equal parts biography, social commentary, and comedy. Each story is couched in Sedaris's dry, occasionally biting humor which make the book extremely readable and profoundly human at the same time. Funny, poignant, sarcastic, and contemplative; this book refuses to be categorized and never fails to entertain. I look forward to reading more from Sedaris in the future. A quick read...well worth the time....more info
  • Pretty good
    It had some funny moments...and I did laugh out loud on several occassions. He's one of my favorite authors...more info
  • Not his best but good enough
    I enjoyed "Dress Your Family...". It delves more into his family and personal relationships than the others have and while funny - it is occasionally funny in a disturbing way. You can't help but wonder how much is true and how much is sort of maybe true but somewhat embellished. You find yourself hoping there is in fact embellishment because we're talking serious dysfunction otherwise - particularly when he discusses one of his sisters and his brother.

    His writing is as usual quick and biting and witty. He is self-deprecating, but compared to a couple of his siblings, and maybe his father (as he describes them) - he is the *less messed up*, which is scary.

    Although I didn't like it as much as "Me Talk Pretty One Day", I still recommend it.
    ...more info
  • More From The Talented Storyteller Who Is David Sedaris
    David Sedaris is a talented master of the short (autobiographical) story. This collection of pieces spans various eras of his life, but I found the pieces dealing with his childhood (which were the bulk of the pieces) the most enjoyable. These are the pieces where the Sedaris family comes full-fore.

    One thing to note about Sedaris is that he has been accused of his family (and independently documented by a piece in "The New Republic") of some exaggeration of events that has occurred. So I wouldn't take the events here as gospel truth.

    Still, even with a bit of fiction thrown in, these are wonderful essays and very enjoyable....more info
  • Another great Sedaris
    This one was a little more poignant than the others, but not remotely lacking the great humor we all love in David Sedaris. I'm not sure that his family is any wackier than others, but he has a gift for bringing them to life for us in all their humorous episodes....more info
  • for folks between novels
    I'm between 4 and 5 stars on this one... There are a couple of stories that don't "do it" for me, stories that I more/less regard as filler for the binding. And then there are the rest of the stories in here which are (all of them) blisteringly, timelessly, laugh-out-loud funny.

    Maybe it helps that before this came out, we saw him read several selections from the collection. For that, I'll err on the side of five starts.

    "Yes, I am talking about boat trailers. But also, I am dying."...more info
  • Another great Sedaris book
    This is another awesome and hilarious book by Sedaris. Full of funny stories..and of course, bizzarre situations. His books are fun to read in pieces....more info
  • David Sedaris
    Another collection of essays from a brilliant wit who you know you love to read. It's like I've said in my reviews before. There's no need to review each book when I can just give the author a blanket endorsement and guarantee you'll love whatever you find by the guy. I love it when that happens. I may have annoyed Jan by laughing out loud too often. Sedaris is like that.
    ...more info
  • I'm a fan
    I'm a huge fan of David Sedaris. He's not only hysterical, but also inspirational. I was surprised when i spoke about his book to my friends and co workers, that many of them have already read his books. "Me talk pretty one day" is highly recommended as well....more info
  • Good read
    This book was a good read. At times I was bored with the writer, but over all it was a great book!...more info
  • Loved the book
    Loved the book - love the author. Don't read this book in bed with anyone else - your laughter will keep them awake....more info
  • Sedaris strikes the funny bone!
    A naked Barbie Doll adorns the cover, yet this autobiographical bestseller is about a boy growing up with a Greek background and a mismatched family, all while dealing with his homosexuality. The chapters express only a few memorable stories, yet have distinctively affected Sedaris' life. The stories include embarrassing moments where his father confronts the most popular guy's dad about a rock throwing incident, and also anecdotes of his redneck brother on a quest to buy all the baby paraphernalia he can buy, even before his wife goes to the doctor. The seasons of Sedaris' life are all accounted for, from childhood to drug addiction to life in France with his boyfriend. Overall, Sedaris is able to capture the reader with undeniable wit and true to life tales.
    In the very first chapter of the book, Sedaris introduces the reader to his humor with a bit of childhood innocence. A family who "doesn't believe in T.V." trick-or-treats at the Sedaris Household on the day after Halloween. Sedaris' mother insists that the children produce pieces of their own "earned" candy. When much time elapses, his mother enters his room and begins to snatch Necco wafers, ""Not those," [he] pleaded, but rather than words, [his] mouth expelled chocolate, which fell onto the sleeve of her sweater. She shook her arm, and the mound of chocolate dropped like a horrible turd upon [his] bedspread". The crude humor and inclusion of "turd" appeals to many readers, mainly because it comes from a real child's thoughts. This scene is the first hint of madness in Sedaris' life. The story, including the humor, makes him contemplate the family who doesn't watch T.V. for months, and in turn learns that television is a way to distract himself from his own issues and problems with his family.
    The humor continues throughout the book in the seventeenth chapter when his crazed sister finds a turkey in the trash, then cooks and eats it. Sedaris must learn to balance his high-class integrity with his connection to his sister who eats out of the trash. The reader learns about what type of man he has become through his sister's sarcastic comment, "Listen to you. If it didn't come from Balduccci's, if it wasn't raised on polenta and wild baby acorns, it has to be dangerous". The reader understands how his obsessive compulsive personality has affected his relationships with his family. He also grows more and more into the homosexual stereotype. The obvious comedy found in eating a turkey that has been thrown away for a reason is a signature of Sedaris. While his book is nonfiction, the bluntness of his writing makes for more humor in these types of situations.
    In every chapter, Sedaris takes real life accounts and formulates them into a good read. Laughing out loud while reading each chapter is quite common and this bestseller is very promising. It can change a bad mood into a good one. Sedaris really will strike your funny bone.

    ...more info
  • Not his best work.
    So. David Sedaris.

    Well, let's be clear. Nobody with a funnybone can hate David Sedaris. And neither do I. But it has to be said - this last book ("Dress your family in corduroy and denim") was a disappointment. Judging by the number of people showing up for his readings here in San Francisco, and its lengthy sojourn on The New York Times bestseller list, it obviously did pretty well commercially. And, based on the enormous amount of accumulated goodwill from his earlier books, I don't begrudge DS his commercial success. Not one bit.

    Well, OK. Maybe just a little bit. Because, for the first time, in this collection, we see clear indications that Sedaris is bumping up against his limitations. How so? I think it's because Sedaris is at his best when he writes from the point of view of slightly marginalized outsider. In his earlier stuff, he was poor, he's gay and he managed to achieve a tone of bemusement in reporting what went on around him that was completely hilarious. In the face of increasing commercial success, the edge that was conferred by his being poor became harder to maintain. But he and his boyfriend moved to France, thereby achieving automatic outsider status, and Sedaris was able to mine this for comedy gold. His accounts of misadventures while learning French are truly funny, and credit must be given for the way in which he makes the comedy seem so effortless. But that's his previous book "Me Talk Pretty One Day".

    Problem is, the whole 'marginalized outsider' position seems less and less tenable for an author whose books spend months on the best seller list. Similarly, after a few years in France, the forces of assimilation are bound to cut down on the number of amusing misunderstandings funny enough to be worth writing about. This leaves one other area which Sedaris has mined fruitfully in previous books - anecdotes about his family. Indeed, the majority of the stories in this latest collection are family-based anecdotes. However, the stories in this collection do not come close to matching the wit and poignancy of those in earlier books, suggesting that this vein of inspiration may be close to being tapped out. Hardly surprising - any author would lead with the funniest material; this collection has occasional flashes of wit, but never reaches the 'laugh-out-loud' quality of the earlier books. Several pieces in this collection (describing his brother's wedding, his job one summer at the State Fair) are downright pedestrian, and a couple of pieces just fall flat - ruminations about apartment-hunting while visiting the Anne Frank house, accounts of visits with two of his sisters, whose feelings about being featured as bit-players in this, or subsequent collections are decidedly mixed. It's to Sedaris's credit that he too is ambivalent on this point, but his soul-searching on the issue doesn't make for interesting reading.

    One of Yeats's later poems is called "The Circus Animals' Desertion"; in it, he bemoans the fact that the themes which inspired him early in his career have lost their inspirational power. "Dress your family in corduroy and denim" supports the notion that David Sedaris may be experiencing similar difficulties. But don't count him out yet. His previous books established Sedaris as a hilarious, extremely talented writer. Anyone can have one mediocre book. Let's hope he will leave it at that. ...more info
  • Moderately amusing
    This is the first book I've read by the author after many recommendations from people. The book was so-so...the only time I laughed out loud was in the "Girl Next Door" when he finds out the little girl's hick grandmother is nicknamed "Rascal." That was brilliant. The reason the stories lacked a lot of humor for me is because they were so banal and commonplace. This guy does not have a unique family--everyone I know has a family just as crazy, but in different ways. My family is twice as nutty as his, though nobody drinks. I just didn't feel like this guy had any experiences worth writing about. As another reviewer pointed out, the book read like some random dude's mildly amusing, though ultimately pointless, blog. ...more info
  • Funny In A Way, But Sad
    Comic writer David Sedaris writes about his family, his neighbors, his village in France, trying to drown an unfortunate mouse, his gig as a house-cleaning professional, and much more. Memories that most of us would repress--too embarrassing, too horrific, too humuliating even to think about--become his material. Much of the book deals with his struggles about being gay, or dealing with his obsessional disorder. You can see the humor, and you can also feel what it cost the author.

    I was told that Sedaris would be side-splitting funny, and in fact there are a number of funny moments and a few really good laughs. Mostly though the tone of the book is sad, poignant, almost painful to read. Author David Sedaris writes extremely well and makes the most unbelievable episodes feel, well, believable.

    So, if you like outrageous humor with an undertone of deep sadness, you will probably enjoy Corduroy And Denim. I recommend it, but it's not for everyone. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber....more info
  • A great reprise of Me Talk Pretty...can Sedaris move on one day?
    Over the past few months, I read David Sedaris' books in order of their publications. Upon completing Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim, I feel that Sedaris has come to an impasse. While I certainly enjoyed a few of the essays here, I also feel rather numbed to the Sedaris style. Between Barrel Fever and Naked, there is a tremendous jump in maturity as Sedaris decides to write essays instead of stories. Me Talk Pretty One Day solidifies Sedaris' command of his comic voice. Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim feels like an extension of Me Talk Pretty One Day instead of a continuation of the writing process.

    While I don't agree that Sedaris is a pretentious writer, I do think that he needs to advance the quality of his next book. Doing the same thing over and over will appeal to fans, but I may lose interest if I see another book where he is the star. I wonder what a third-person point of view Sedaris essay would sound like? Could it freshen his funny? Would fans even let him change?...more info
  • He picks up on everything
    A collection of essays about his life and family, David Sedaris once again entertains and tickles with his intelligent wit, sarcasm and his humorous but admirably perceptive outlook on everyday things the rest of us absorb, not file away for future reference. I truly wouldn't want to be around David though. I would feel like I'd unwittingly make it into one of his books.

    ...more info
  • Love It
    David Sedaris is probably one of my favorite writers. He manages to make situations that are just plain odd into wonderful stories that make me laugh every time I read any of them. There are times where certain events seem very unlikely but they only add to the hilarity and they aren't crazy enough to take away from the main idea. The poker game scene seems a bit embellished along with a few others although I absolutely loved reading every story. The little side notes he adds in about what's happening are wonderfully placed. The way he presents the material in the book always makes me want to read more. The only time I could make myself stop reading was after a story had ended. This story focuses a lot on his dysfunctional family and it is scary that he considers himself the normal one. I loved the variety of stories and situations he chooses to express such different people and events in his life. His use of subtext is flawless and makes the reader feel smart and like they're in on one of his secrets when they pick up on it. His story about the "popular crowd" and his dad was hysterical. No matter how awkward or risqu¨¦ a topic he's talking about might be, he always finds a way to mention it politely or add a funny spin on it. The story about not wanting to share his Halloween candy is something everyone who ever went trick-or-treating can relate to and that's why it was so funny. It was during that scene in which I received many glares from Starbucks patrons as I laughed out loud to myself. This book was absolutely fantastic and I would highly recommend reading it, especially if you enjoyed any of his other books....more info
  • Edgy and Occasionally Disturbing
    I've enjoyed Dave Sedaris's work since I first heard an abridged reading of SantaLand Diaries on NPR several years ago. I loved the unabridged and somewhat edgier version even more. I have enjoyed every one of his essay collections. His delivery, written and spoken, is unique.

    On the other hand, I am no Sedarista. While some of his pieces are funny or touching or thoughtful or odd, others are a bit creepy. I first read The Girl Next Door in The New Yorker and it was disturbing, not only because of the strange family he describes, but because of his own behavior. It was no less disturbing a second time around.

    All but one of the essays in this collection have appeared before, in magazines or on radio. The single essay that seems to be newly published here is Chicken in the Henhouse, funny in places, but it left me uneasy in the same way that The Girl Next Door did.

    These essays have Sedaris's family as their theme. Apparently the family member who is most comfortable in his own skin is his younger brother, Paul, a Southern redneck who surrounds himself with clutter and dogs. Sedaris never mentions that his sister Amy is also a writer. There are funny lines and conversations, but I wouldn't categorize this as a humor collection. His previous collections have included mainstream funny essays with more serious and unsettling pieces. This collection contains nothing like SantaLand Diaries or Me Talk Pretty One Day and Jesus Shaves, two fabulous essays about the trials of learning French, and trying to explain, with limited vocabulary, why an egg-laying bunny is the symbol of Easter in America. The pieces in Dress Your Family are a little too honest and revealing to be comfortably funny.

    But I read every word. Sedaris's writing is clean and spare. He doesn't waste any words. These essays, as effortless as they read, must have required merciless editing on Sedaris's part to remove every unnecessary word, and to make every phrase just the right one.

    Which is why I am still puzzling over the title. There is no essay called Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, nor is there any reference to corduroy or denim. Perhaps it has to do with the French origin of the words? Maybe the reason is so obvious that when someone tells me what it means, I'll smack my forehead and feel like a dope. But meanwhile, I'm stumped.

    ...more info
  • Somewhat amusing
    This was the first title I have read from the author and after seeing all of the reviews, I somewhat expected this to be one of the those laugh out loud books. With a few exceptions, it wasn't. I was still entertained by the accounts of this very unique family and was able to relate to various pieces of the different stories. I dont regret picking up this book up but I I think I was expecting more. ...more info
  • Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
    "...Still I adopted my mother's attitude, as it allowed me to pretend that not making friends was a conscious choice." So ends the first paragraph of David Sedaris' star achievement, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.

    Sedaris' writing is not linear, though while his books have no beginning, middle, or end; all of his essays revolve around a central point. Throughout Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, we see Sedaris really look at himself for the first time, realize that money is material, and find that even those who should love you most can turn on you for no appropriate reason. There is no specific setting in this book but Sedaris' life; the main characters are the people he encounters; and the obstacles that he faces are those anyone can relate to. Sedaris is able to connect with the average man because he is the average man, making this book that much more hilarious.

    Being told to pick your favorite moment out of Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is like being told that although you have a million dollars; you can only buy one thing, so you better make it count. There are just so many things to choose from- Sedaris and his siblings trying to get their youngest sister run over so that their mother will let them in out of the snow; a little misunderstanding between maid services; and even the birth of The Rooster. Despite all of the humor, I would have to choose a slightly more serious moment as the one that affected me most. When Sedaris left college he went back home to live with his parents. After a few months of bumming around and doing drugs, Sedaris' father called him into his office, and kicked him out. When his mother dropped him off at his new apartment, she began to cry. As Sedaris states, "I wouldn't know it until a few months later, but my father kicked me out of the house not because I was a bum, but because I was gay."

    It was difficult to pull a theme from this book, and for a while I wasn't so sure that there was one. A few weeks after I finished the book, I began to think about how people always try to cover up anything ugly, like Sedaris' father kicking him out of the house; and there I had my theme. In the last essay included in this book, "Nuit of the Living Dead," Sedaris finds a mouse in his house late at night, and proceeds to drown it in a bucket. Partway through killing it he is interrupted by a man looking for directions. He is, of course, worried about what the man will think of him. However, when the man gets up to the house and looks into the bucket, he does not seem shocked or surprised. After he left with directions, Sedaris walked back out onto his porch and looked at the lifeless animal in the water. As he stared at the floating body he felt the darkness around him, and later wrote: "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." As usual, something ugly was being replaced with something beautiful, and once again the illusion that everything was okay was being put up for show.

    This book will make anyone who reads it laugh, yet due to the hilarity of Me Talk Pretty One Day, I did not find this to be his best humorous achievement. I did however find it to be the one that affected me the most. I have always believed that a book that means something to the author is better than a book that is meant to entertain, which is why I believe that Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is a must-read.
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  • Humorous Essays Lack Unity
    David Sedaris's Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is a reading experience much more than it is a book. The reason for this is that it is not a novel, nor a memoir, nor a work of non-fiction or much of any other genre that one simply thinks up when the word "book" is mentioned. Sedaris's newest work is rather the prose writer's version of a collection of poems: a collection of separate autobiographical essays mostly having the purpose of entertaining the reader. Entertaining as they are, the problem with the book is that it seems Sedaris could have simply spit out hundreds of essays and picked at random the best ones and released them as a book. The essays only share the common thread that they are all about Sedaris. They seem to have no unified purpose or theme that they are trying to communicate. The book may have been better released as a weekly newspaper column rather than a single volume that deceives the consumer into thinking that it is a single comprehensive volume with a single purpose.
    The organization of the essays trick the reader into thinking that they may be reading a kind of choppy memoir, perhaps even excerpts from a larger memoir. Each essay stands alone as a separate entity. The essays as a result span a wide range of time and consequently, also span a wide range of topics. Sedaris writes about everything from
    Halloween episodes, snow storms, sleep-over parties, his life as a homosexual, being in the land lord business, his life in France and the birth of his brother's daughter. Granted, these subjects don't have much in common with the page-turning, suspense filled subject matter of writers like Dan Brown and Michael Chricton. Nevertheless, Sedaris finds a way to make his stories incredibly interesting. He often incorporates his witty sense of humor into his stories. I personally nearly embarrassed myself reading in public places because I would usually laugh out loud upon reading one of Sedaris's clever phrases. Though the book lacked a sense of completeness, each individual essay was very well constructed and surprisingly entertaining.
    Sedaris distinguishes himself from other writers in that he is not shy in the least. The greatest thing about him is that he will say anything without the fear of being politically incorrect, too rash or up front. One of my favorite examples of this kind of writing was when Sedaris describes the normal winter conditions while growing up in North Carolina. "What little snow there was would usually melt an hour or two after hitting the ground and there you'd be in your windbreaker and unconvincing mittens, forming a lumpy figure made mostly of mud, Snow Negroes, we called them." The root of Sedaris's humor lies in saying the unexpected. Rarely is his writing overly offensive or bawdy, but it does have a certain provocative quality that often catches the reader off guard.
    However there are some instances where Sedaris goes perhaps a little too far, usually when writing about his brother, Paul, who seems to be depicted as a rashly offensive person. Paul's crude sense of humor provides such an extreme contrast to Sedaris's dry, witty humor that it almost seems out of place in the collection of essays. Especially because Paul only appears in two or three of the book's two dozen or so essays, it almost seems like Sedaris turns to the dirty and offensive as an unfair substitute for his legitimate, clever humor.
    The most disappointing aspect of the book is the conclusion. It is almost upsetting because the final essay ends on a similar note as the others. The only reason it is placed at the end of the book seems simply because it is the most recent chronologically. Throughout the entire book, it seems as though the reader is trying to figure out why these particular essays were presented together rather than separately. Instead the book simply just ends.
    Sedaris has nevertheless created an interesting and entertaining collection of autobiographical material. His zany cleverness, crisp writing and engaging voice come together to extract majesty from the mundane. Perhaps writing essays of everyday incidents makes the collection even stronger, giving the average audience member much more to relate to and connect with on a personal level. Though the essays don't seem to mesh together very well, Sedaris seems to conquer the lack of cohesion to make for a very enjoyable read filled with many laughs and life lessons. ...more info
  • Untitled
    After having read all of David Sedaris books, this one was just as funny, but it also made me very sad at times. There were alot of chapters (rather, short stories) where I read silently, having not laughed at all, but just engaged myself in them, and couldnt help but feel a little torn up afterwards.

    I know this isnt a very helpful review for most newcomers to Sedaris' work, but for those of you interested, I recommend starting with Me Talk Pretty One Day. Save Holidays On Ice for the holidays, even though it doesnt matter. I just think it fits better....more info
  • Hilarious
    The reason I give this audiobook 4 stars is that there are only 2 live performances, when 4 are advertised - 6 to 8 Black Men is live, as is Rooster at the Hitchin' Post, but neither Who's the Chef? nor Repeat After Me are live (the latter two are advertised as live in the copyright section on the back). Still, this audiobook is immensely worth it....more info
  • I liked it, but............
    First of all, I don't see why Amazon would print a reveiw by someone like David Smith who admittingly only read 4 pages of the book. I'm a big David Sedaris fan from way back. My favorite book of his is "Barrell Fever." That book had me not only laughing out loud, but calling friends and reading them entire essays. His childhood recollections in this book are funny, particularly when they involve his sisters, but this one, for me, wasn't as entertaining as the other books. And this one felt too short, as well. Regardless, David Sedaris is a great writer and a great performer. I saw him live once and got the change to meet him afterwards and he lives up to his talent. As for Mr Smith who called him a young pretentious writer, David is at least in early 40's. Trust me there are much younger and more pretentious writers out there. And had he taken the time to read the book he would find out, that unlike many memiors, this book does not ask for any pity or sympathy even in his worst of times. He's simply showing you how he and his family have always been able to find the humor in even the darkest of moments. There's nothing pretentious abou that....more info