If you’ve read David Sedaris before, you know how he can be. He is dark, humorous, and honest about people and how they act – even if they are animals.
I can’t help but wonder, though, if he has issues with his mother. But of course, there is a story in this book that has a decidedly discriminating tone towards homosexuality, and we have to assume the openly gay Sedaris doesn’t have a problem with homosexuals.
This collection of stories points out recognized human failures, but translates them into the animal kingdom. He recreates the every day imbalance of good versus evil, using fuzzy little forest creatures that we should know and love.
In the title story, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, the chipmunk finds herself in a young relationship with a handsome squirrel, but the relationship is completely unacceptable to her family and friends because of their obvious cultural differences. During the course of a date that has way too many awkward silences, the squirrel announces he likes Jazz, something the chipmunk has never heard of before. She agrees to liking it as well, but when discussing it with her sister later on, after thinking herself she may have just agreed to liking anal sex, she decides to break it off, blaming the wishes of her mother for the end of the relationship. The regret is almost overwhelming later in life, when she comes to realize what Jazz really is and what she may have given up by ditching the squirrel due to the bigotry of her family.
And the other themes in the book run similarly to this – some sexual in nature, so don’t give the book (which has a very Kids book look and feel to it thanks to illustrator Ian Falconer, of the Olivia story books fame) to your 10 year old. The lessons, if they get them, are valuable ones, but that doesn’t mean they should learn them at the pen of David Sedaris.
I laughed, a lot. I won’t lie. And I had to take a look at myself as a mom, trying to make sure that the egregious errors made by several of the moms in the book are not errors I make myself on a daily basis. But someone’s mom is making them, or they wouldn’t be there to make fun of and draw attention to. That is a sad reality in this book, but I suppose there is a lot of sad reality in this book, if you can see it through your tears of laughter.
So on that level, the book was a bit disturbing to me, despite the humor. Holy crap, how we can mess up our kids!
Read the book. I am recommending it (although with much more thought than went into recommending it to me – sorry, Dr. V!), but only if you can stomach the violence, the perversion, and the mirror it might hold up in front of you.
It’s good to laugh at ourselves now and again, but beware that with this book, it might be more nervous laughter than rolling on the floor laughter.