Posts Tagged ‘sardonic’

Me Talk Pretty One Day

August 6, 2011

Author: David Sedaris

Title: Me Talk Pretty One Day

Genre: Nonfiction, GLBTQ Humor, Audio Book

Publication Date: 2001

Number of Pages: 5 CDs, 6 hrs.

Geographical Setting: North Carolina, Chicago, New York, France

Time Period: Present day/author’s childhood

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary: David Sedaris returns in his fourth book with more sharp, witty stories mined from his childhood, career and relationships. Even as Sedaris articulately paints a picture of himself as the perennial put-upon loser, his charming near-misanthropy, cheerful self-deprecation and skewed perspective on life nevertheless soon have readers rooting for him. Anecdotes range from childhood speech therapy and failed attempts at teaching to his meeting and moving to France with boyfriend Hugh and struggles to learn the language. This is funny, funny stuff. And—perhaps unsurprisingly to those already familiar with Sedaris’ uniquely engaging style—the material is served even better in this audio CD edition, read by the author himself. Sedaris’ reedy, nasal voice, with its slight lisp and just a hint of his North Carolina upbringing, is naturally perfect in delivering the nuances and timing needed for a listening experience more akin to performance art than many audio books ’perfunctory readings. His familiarity with the material gives the collection an appealing storytelling quality, and in fact some of the stories appeared on NPR’s This American Life before the book was published. Some are accompanied by small musical highlights, while others were recorded live, reinforcing the storytelling/performance art feeling. Sedaris writes clever, intelligent and hilarious stories, drawing on a tradition going back to Mark Twain. Readers should note that Sedaris doesn’t shy away from some mature language or subjects. A great choice when looking for something funny, nonfiction or that works particularly well in audio format.

Subject Headings: Humorous nonfiction; GLBTQ humor; American humor; Paris (France); Anecdotes—Humorous

Appeal: Humorous, witty, charming, entertaining, self-deprecating, curmudgeonly, nostalgic, sardonic, ironic, leisurely-paced, clever, conversational, storytelling, cultural commentary, wry observations, read by author, empathetic characters, underdog themes

3 terms that best describe this book: Sharp, witty, conversational

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace (A collection of wryly humorous essays on childhood, vacationing and other cultural observations)

The Partly Cloudy Patriot (Audio CD), by Sarah Vowell (Witty, quirky essays with a keen eye for observation and history, the audio edition features a cast of noted readers like Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Michael Chabon and the author herself, with music from quirky popsters They Might Be Giants)

A Woman Trapped in a Woman’s Body: (Tales from a Life of Cringe), by Lauren Weedman (Humorous, self-deprecating, confessional memoir from a former Daily Show correspondent)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

After the Plague: Stories, by T. Coraghessan Boyle (Series of ironic and darkly humorous tales of contemporary life)

The Adrian Mole Diaries, by Sue Townsend (Humorous, touching diary of a 13-year-old boy who writes down his daily experiences and observations)

A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby (A dark comedy, themes of suicide, angst, depression and promiscuity, sharp wit)

 -Joe

Stuck Rubber Baby

June 23, 2010
Stuck Rubber Baby

Author: Howard Cruse;  Art by Howard Cruse

Title: Stuck Rubber Baby

Genre: Gay/Lesbian, African-American, Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 1995

Number of Pages: 210

Geographical Setting: Southern United States

Time Period: 1960’s

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:

While not a strictly autobiographical story, Stuck Rubber Baby nonetheless explores much of what author and artist Howard Cruse went through while growing up as a gay man in the South.

The story follows Toland Polk, a young white man living in the Southern town of Clayfield during the 1960s and the civil rights movement.  While unrest between blacks and whites (and whites and homosexuals) rages all around him, Toland must also deal with his inner turmoil about his own sexuality.  He begins the story in denial but eventually realizes who is and embraces it.

An older and wiser Toland “narrates”, appearing at the beginning of certain chapters with his present day partner.  We see them doing somewhat mundane things such as preparing dinner.  These small vignettes remind the reader that the story is being recalled and also let the reader know that Toland did emerge from all the chaos and become true to himself.

The black and white art is busy at times but highly detailed.  Various degrees of shading and crosshatching are used to distinguish black characters from white characters and though most of the faces sport unusually pointy chins, they all have defining characteristics that set them apart from each other.  This is important since there is quite a large cast surrounding Toland for the reader to keep track of throughout the story.

Touching, poignant and often funny, Stuck Rubber Baby is a moving story that resonates with themes both universal and personal.

Subject Headings:

Gay men – Comic books, strips, etc; Race relations; Civil rights; Graphic novels

Appeal:

ambitious, thoughtful, hostile, bleak, menacing, wistful, melancholy, hopeful, complex, angst-ridden, turmoil, provocative, poignant, courageous, potent, cynical, sardonic

3 terms that best describe this book: Challenging; Provocative; Rebellious

Similar Authors and Works:

Fiction

Strangers In Paradise: Pocket Book 1 by Terry Moore

Slice of life tale of three friends who weather the storms of relationships with people outside their circle (or triangle) as well as with each other.

Similarities:  graphic novel format, gay/lesbian relationships, self discovery, cynical

Max and Sven by Tom Bouden

The story of Max who has a crush on his best friend Sven.  Sven however, is straight.

Similarities: graphic novel format, gay character, self discovery, angst

Blankets: An Illustrated Novel by Craig Thompson

A memoir of Thompson’s religious upbringing and how he began to discover his true self after finding and falling in love with a girl at his bible camp.

Similarities:  graphic novel format, relationships, family, self discovery

Non-Fiction

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel recalls growing up in a funeral home with her father, a high school English teacher and closeted homosexual.

Similarities:  graphic novel format, gay relationships, families

Freedom Riders: John Lewis And Jim Zwerg On The Front Lines Of The Civil Rights Movement by Ann Bausum ; forewords by Freedom Riders Congressman John Lewis and Jim Zwerg

Two young men, one white and one black, recount their experiences during the Civil Rights era when they took part in the freedom rides.

Similarities:  civil rights, race relations, courage

The Wrong Side Of Murder Creek: A White Southerner In The Freedom Movement by Bob Zellner, with Constance Curry

Another memoir, this one dealing with the author’s experiences as a civil rights activist in the 1960s.  Like Toland in Stuck Rubber Baby, Bob Zellner was born in the South and participated in demonstrations against racial discrimination.

Similarities:  racial tension, civil rights, rebelliousness, courage

Name: Valerie Kyriakopoulos