Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls


Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris.
2013, Hachett Audio, read by the author.

A collection of humorous essays on everything from French dentistry to Sedaris' rather bizarre childhood.  Adult content.

I like to listen to audio books while working out.  This time, I  had to stop running a time or two because I was laughing too hard to keep going.  Do I really need to say more?  No, but of course, I will.  (Note, the only other things that have made me laugh out loud in the middle of a workout have been NPR's quiz shows, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and Says You).

In point of fact, while much of the book was laugh-out-loud funny, a few of these essays were a little squirmy-uncomfortable to listen to, even while being laugh-out-loud funny, notably the ones about his childhood and his youth.  Well, most of us would probably do well to forget most of our 20s, so I'll give him credit for at least turning them into something to laugh at.  The discomfort with the childhood essays comes from the nature of his family, which to me sounds dysfunctional and even abusive, though Sedaris assures us it wasn't.  Not abusive, anyway.  But from where I stand. . . wow.  I grew up in the same era, though on the other side of the country and in a different socio-economic class, so maybe we saw it a bit differently.  I guess if he can laugh at it, so can I.

Despite a few cringe-worthy moments, though, this goes down as one of the funniest books I've read (or listened to, which admittedly probably made it better, since his delivery is great) in a very long time.  Sedaris has a keen eye for the absurdity of the human condition, and the gift with language to make it all hilariously clear to us.

Plus: he almost makes me want to get that colonoscopy my doctor keeps nagging me about.


Read it, or listen, if you are over the age of consent.

You know, I suddenly realize I found the owls, but don't remember diabetes coming up at all.  Did I lose track somewhere?  Or is Sedaris kicking back and enjoying another good laugh?

Full Disclosure: I borrowed Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls from my (online) library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. I've had this book on my to-read list, and the online library has this in the audio format. I might have to give it a try. I like Sedaris- I've read a couple of his books-- but a little of him goes a long way with me. Sometimes the humor almost starts sounding a bit too snarky for me and the edge a bit too hard. But still, he's a fantastic writer and yes, very good with the the humor.

  2. This one didn't feel too snarky, most of the time. He can definitely go that way, but he also had some great turns of phrase (which I wish I could remember; that's one problem with doing audio--stuff goes by and I don't stop and take another look, and since I'm usually out running, I don't make any notes).

    Since each chapter is a free-standing essay, this would be a good one to take in small doses.

  3. Well, first of all the title intrigued me. This statement of yours
    "Do I really need to say more? No, but of course, I will. " made me chuckle. :)
    Thanks for sharing. Sounds amusing and uncomfortable at the same time.
    Lastly, get your colonoscopy! My husband had stage III colon cancer - at age 38. Had he not followed through with getting the colonoscopy, he probably wouldn't be sitting next to me right now. Do it! :) Lecture over.

    1. I know! I just wish they didn't make you fast for 24 hours. I haven't even managed the 12-hour fast for my blood tests.


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