We saw David Sedaris live the other night and he was a hoot. The only book of his we don’t have is Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, so we picked it up after the reading to have it autographed. Alas, the line was too long and we had a babysitter waiting at home, so we took our book and left.
This book is very different from his others-all the stories are featuring animal characters (with very human lives).
The stories are pretty sick and disturbed, with a dark humor to them, imbuing the animal characters with human traits, which are seamlessly combined with their animal traits and instincts.
For example, in the Judicious Brown Chicken, a hen sees her sister killed after the sister has revealed lesbian tendencies. She assumes that there is a cause and effect there and continues to assume when any animal dies that it is because of a characteristic they exhibited. So she’s like a person, but all the animals are dying in the way of the farmyard-hawk, snake, etc.
In another story a mouse steals baby animals to feed to a snake, and then is confronted by those animals’ mothers, seeking their lost children.
In the Parrot and the Potbellied Pig, though, the animals are more like animal characters in a people world (the parrot is a journalist.)
The animals don’t wear human clothes, but they talk. And they talk a lot and say crazy human type things. They have neuroses, are alcoholics, come from dysfunctional families, and more.
I liked The Grieving Owl the best-this is one of the stories where the animal-human world is just like it really is, except the animals talk and have very human conversations. This owl’s mate has died and he can’t stand his lazy and stupid family. He has taken to getting information from potential prey (I won’t kill if you can tell me something interesting) because he delights in knowledge and learning about the world. When a rat tells him that there is a kind of leech that lives only in the anus of a hippopotamus he takes off to the zoo to meet Lois (that’s my slave name), the hippo. By the way, all these stories have little illustrations by Ian Falconer, of the Olivia picture books fame. Beware, Olivia fans! These illustrations have the charm of Olivia mixed with the grotesque details of the story. So imagine how this particular story is illustrated!