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David Sedaris take on France and Americans

David Sedaris take on France and Americans

Old Jun 25th, 2007, 05:24 PM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
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What?!?!?!? Excuse moi. I think I have just been insulted, sweetie darling.

Well, I'm taking my mink coat and my Gucci sunglasses embedded with Swarovski crystals and am going to stand over at the bar with Ivana Trump.

With friends like you, who needs Anna Wintour?
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 05:44 PM
  #42  
 
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Another fan of David Sedaris here - I've heard him frequently on NPR and have read all of his books I think. By far my favorite is "Me Talk Pretty One Day". I quote parts of that book to people all the time.

I told Sedaris' Easter story to a French ex-pat neighbor of ours - it was hilarious. I was leading up to the part where Sedaris and the French teacher are arguing about whether the idea of an Easter rabbit makes any sense or not, when my neighbor interrupted me and said in the exact same tone of voice I imagine the French teacher used, "Of course not - that's ridiculous. The candy is brought by a BELL." I couldn't stop laughing.

I gave him the book by the way - thought it would do him good to read about a native English-speaker's take on learning French, as he (my neighbor that is) is quite free with his take on the ridulosities of the English language as seen by a Frenchman.
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 06:06 PM
  #43  
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Norcalif, I posted that above! here it is again

http://lostvirtue.livejournal.com/107584.html



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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 06:28 PM
  #44  
 
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Thanks Cigalechanta - I never tire of the rabbit vs. bell debate!
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 06:57 PM
  #45  
 
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I keep reading this post waiting for BEATCHICK to check in!
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 07:08 PM
  #46  
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Hi jody. I know she was excitd meeting him in paris at his book reading. I was going to go but Michel and Scott invited me to dinner,
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 07:33 PM
  #47  
 
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Another huge fan of Sedaris here. Yes, he is now living in London -- Notting Hill, the last I heard.

Awhile back there was some controversy about how far David stretched the truth in his stories. Having read and also listened to his books on CD, I can attest to the veracity of his stories about his brother, Paul, aka The Rooster, at least. Paul refinished my floors several years ago, and it's nearly incomprehensible that this good ol' southern boy with an off-color vocabulary that could fill the pages of the Oxford OED is related to David. But what great grist he makes for David's work.

I wonder if David's French language troubles were responsible for his move to England??
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 10:16 PM
  #48  
 
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I've hear DS say in interviews that although the stories based on his family have truth to them, they are of course also a product of his exaggerated sensibility. If all he was doing was relating the facts, he wouldn't be as interesting a writer.
I don't worry whether his family are quite as peculiar as they seem in his stories - I just enjoy them, and consider the source: a very funny, imaginative guy with a slight penchant for shocking the family's guests.
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 10:32 PM
  #49  
 
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I love David Sedaris. His early books were especially great to me, as he grew up a couple blocks from my grade and high school and his stories were peppered with the landmarks of my childhood.

The statement that someone is your friend after two minutes, esp. if you're introducing them, is that the word "acquaintance" has a negative connotation in the South - it's too distant and stand-offish. The polite term is "friend". I would never call someone an acquaintance to their face - it would be as if I had told a relative I'd written them out of my will.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 03:58 AM
  #50  
 
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"Has this person been brain damaged or anything? He seems friendly and agreeable but a lot of his thought processes don't make sense to me."

"This statement strikes me as incredibly weird. Am I missing something? I just can't see what's "perfect" about calling somebody your friend for half an hour and then never seeing them again!"

kerouac and hanl, the man is speaking with more than a touch of irony, and if you forget that it will seem weird indeed. He's being deliberately glib, a way of mocking those who he thinks are of less intellectual depth by pretending to be one of the breed himself. We're all supposed to be thrilled to be included in the joke, because that means we're not the targets.

Okay, I concede that this is my first exposure to him, notwithstanding that the title "Me Talk Pretty Some Day" rings a bell. So a single interview might not be a fair basis on which to judge the man, and since I 'know' some of you that think him funny, maybe there's more to him that is better than this. That said, I can't find this piece funny not because of its pretense at a lack of intellectual depth, but its lack of emotional depth. Take that bit about his sitting in his underwear in a medical clinic waiting room in France. Now, medical settings, even very serious illnesses, can provide a lot of humour material even in the ironic vein (e.g. "The Singing Detective" with Michael Gambon) but anybody over the age of 12 who goes to a medical clinic, and is so self-absorbed they think the most critical thing people have to think about is oneself in one's underwear, has a real problem connecting with humanity.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 05:03 AM
  #51  
 
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Hmm. So that was an attempt at humour that went right over my head. In which case, I can't imagine I'd enjoy his books very much!
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 05:18 AM
  #52  
 
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Wellllll,
as to whether DS has been brain damaged, he would say yes.

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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 05:30 AM
  #53  
 
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I didn't get this bit about Americans:
"I’m always sort of surprised when I walk through Paris, and I see people taking pictures. And I often think: you wouldn’t take a picture of that if you hadn’t already seen a picture of it. And then they they’ll go to a place to look at something that they’ve seen pictures of. And I’ve never quite understood that impulse."

Why does he think that's just an American thing? Aren't there thousands of tourists from other countries doing the same thing? And don't French tourists to the U.S. take pictures of the Statue of Liberty or the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hollywood sign?

And this:
"You go to an American city, and it can be nice for a *few blocks*; but then it turns into parking lots." Has he ever walked in Philadelphia from 2nd and Delancey all the way up to 24th and Pine? Or through Portland, Oregon? Or Charleston, SC?

As an American expat in Europe, I don't understand the need for some expats to say xxx in Europe is beautiful and then immediately add how it's so much better than xxx in the U.S. You can admire the beauty of one place without denigrating another. I think Europe IS beautiful but think the U.S. is beautiful too.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 05:34 AM
  #54  
 
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That's what I meant when I wondered about his thought processes -- I couldn't even figure out what his point was supposed to be about taking pictures.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 06:00 AM
  #55  
 
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But do you get that the guy is a humorist? These are quick observations meant to amuse, not indictments meant to sting.

You can find a similar tone in Mark Twain and Will Rogers. And really, in his writing about France and Paris DS picks on the French as much as on Americans.

In fact he had the same wicked take on American culture (and his own "misfit" status relating to it) before he ever went to Europe.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 06:12 AM
  #56  
 
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"You can find a similar tone in Mark Twain and Will Rogers..."

I didn't. I've read most of Twain's travel writings and found them very different from DS. To each his own.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 06:18 AM
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I mean in the way they pull the American leg and point out our foibles. Sometimes in a friendly way, sometimes quite darkly. And Twain certainly gave it to Europe when he visited, too.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 06:22 AM
  #58  
 
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I always recall a quote from Me Talk Pretty One Day that is actually travel-related . . .something along the line of

"It's rude to go to other countries dressed as if you've come to mow their lawn."

For me, that says everything about choosing a travel wardrobe.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 06:39 AM
  #59  
 
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I knew what you meant. But IMO, MT did it far better than DS.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 07:04 AM
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I can't argue with that, BTilke! (after all, the national humor award is named after Twain, and no one else) Few other American writers have had or likely will have the impact on our national consciousness that Twain did.

But I like the idea that contemporary writers like David Sedaris, Christopher Buckley and others keep satire and social commentary alive in the tradition of their great predecessors!
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