What could someone possibly have against rainbow flags? They’re colourful. Cheerful. A sign of openness and acceptance. But that’s not enough for David Sedaris. He lists them under his relationship deal breakers, along with eating anything labelled “lite,” owning cowboy boots, and using the word “freebie.” And yet somehow he spends the entire second part of the book at his boyfriend’s house in France! Mainly going to movie theaters, but still. His adventures introduce us to the cruelest French teacher ever, a rodeo where the clowns are recruited from the audience, and the dubious perks of being a diplomat’s child growing up in Africa. The first part of the book revolves around his childhood, family, and the odd jobs he held before he found fame and fortune as a writer. I won’t lie to you, I thought the first portion was very dull. The writing is pretty basic overall, and while some of the events or characters are comical there is little that stands out as exceptionally interesting. It’s possible I enjoyed the second chunk merely because I like France better than the States, and not out of any greater creative merit. There were two other chapters I especially appreciated: A Shiner Like A Diamond, about his sister Amy, and I’ll Eat What He’s Wearing, which reads like a chapter from Ruth Reichl’s phenomenal Tender at the Bone. Readers with delicate stomachs may need to skip that chapter. It’s not gruesome, just moldy. And since it turns out to be the last chapter, somewhat discombobulating. Typically a memoir like this has a closing section to wrap up the vignettes. Sedaris just drops us off of the final paragraph as if we’re ticks he’s pulled out. No, “thanks for joining me on my amble down memory lane.” None of this, “I’ve learned so much in my life and I’m grateful to get to share it with you” nonsense. From my reading, he clacked out the last sentence, pulled the sheet out of the typewriter, stuffed the manuscript into an envelope and sent it off. It’s odd. Like if I were to end my review here, because I still have to load the dishwasher and it’s getting late.
See what I mean? It just feels wrong.