a year and a bit ago, i bought a jane austen book. a book that had all of her books in it, actually. and i was surprised at how much i enjoyed what i read--the first three pages of 'sense and sensibility'.
i like books. like my sister, i love to wander through barnes and noble, looking at all of the books and feeling 'cultured'. but lately that feeling soon fleets as i realize that a have a heartily stocked bookshelf at home of books i genuinely want to read. then i leave the classy bookseller and head home, where the dvd collection stops me before i make it to the books shelf in the back of the room. the marx brothers' 'duck soup' is still an extremely funny movie 74 years later.
since buying the very nicely bound collection of miss austen's works, i have purchased several other books of various sorts, including 'dune', 'the da vinci code' [which i actually read all the way through and thoroughly enjoyed], and 'heart of darkness', as well as having currently read a third of the thomas jefferson biography that my sister got me for Christmas.
a few days ago i was browsing amazon, and along with a used cd of 'the best of bach' [which has proved to be an extremely excellent purchase, especially for $3.49], i also bought david sedaris's 'wrap your family in corduroy and denim' for $1.29. hardcover and in like new condition. even with the $2.99 shipping cost, i love amazon.
i was first introduced to david sedaris four or five years ago when chris moved from the apartment next door into #104 with the rest of us. he loved literature, writing and reading, and, like me with movies, loved share his medium with others. [he was also one of the best room-roommates i've ever had, but that's for a different post] before i knew him very well, i would overhear him reading bits of a book to my other roommates as i was rushing out the door in the mornings or rushing in door in the evenings [life was pretty busy in college]. when i slowed down to listen, i found myself laughing as chris read. this rather funny book turned out to be 'me talk pretty one day' by david sedaris, an extremely clever freelance living in paris and musing about mundanities of life with mark twain-like wit.
while working with jared hess on a movie several years ago, i felt a frustration as he was telling a story. jared is, without question, the funniest person i have ever known personally. and when he starts telling a story, everyone on set stops working and gathers around, because they know that they will not be just chuckled, but genuinely laughing from the belly. he was talking about an incident at a hospital on his mission; nothing particularly out of the ordinary, but his point of observation made it extremely funny. it was much more mundane than extraordinary. and i realized that i've probably had just as many mundanely-zany instances in my own life, i just could recall, polish, and present them as well as he could.
david sedaris is the same way. many of the essays are about his childhood. he plays in the snow. he attends a sleepover. nothing notably different than what most of us do, yet his deadpan observations have me laughing out loud as i read.
he is also a regular contributor to national public radio, and when i heard him read his 'santaland diaries' [he got a job as an elf a macy's department store in new york; google it], i was surprised at how droll his readings were. no emotion, but sounding as if he were as bored as could be, similar to how jenna fischer explains her audtion for 'pam' on 'the office' [perhaps why i love both oh so much]. the passive expression worked amazing for the material.
hearing sedaris's work read this way was a surprise, because that is not how chris would read it. he would read with effort, trying to put the right emphasis on the right words, adding emotion to what the characters said. and until i head the author read his own work, i thought chris was reading it perfectly.
the day i got my book, i turned to the essay that i had bought it for and coerced mark into pausing 'the simpsons' during a commercial break [i love dvr]. while i tried my best to read as deadpan as i could, i sounded more like chris, just about to laugh at what i was reading, barely able to hold back the excitement of knowing that what i am about to say is undesputedly funny, occasionally losing the humor by laughing in the split seconds between when i read the words and when i say them.
his commentary on santa claus in the netherlands is worth the cover price of $24.95.
but if you can find it for $1.29, go for it.