Aug 27, 2008

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

First of all, thank you, internet. I don’t think I’d have thought of picking up a book by David Sedaris if I hadn’t heard such great things about him from all of you.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is a collection of autobiographical essays (most of which read like short stories, really) about several topics, including growing up in a dysfunctional family, relationships, being gay or dealing with family expectations.

I think it’d be a bit redundant to say just how hilarious David Sedaris is. Those of you who don’t know it from experience have probably heard it before. But as hilarious as he is, I think that what I liked the most about this book was the way Sedaris, like my favourite humorists, intertwines tragedy and humour. There’s always a serious side to the stories he tells. Most of them are not only funny but also strange, sad, nostalgic or touching.

Some of my favourite essays were “The Ship Shape”, a childhood story about disappointment, most specifically the time Sedaris’ father almost bought a beach house; “Full House”, about how a very young Sedaris managed to keep his homosexuality from being discovered by his peers during a game of strip poker at a sleepover; “Heijira”, a short essay about how Sedaris was kicked out of the house by his father due to his homosexuality and only realized that was the actual reason later; “Possession”, about looking for an apartment in Paris, and then later, in a visit to Amsterdam, realizing that Anne Frank’s house would be the ideal place to live; and “Chicken in the Henhouse”, about prejudice against gay men and how some people seem to assume that homosexuality and paedophilia are one and the same thing.

I wish I could share some favourite passages, but I read most of this book at the beach, with no pencil in hand to mark them. So you’ll just have to trust me when I say that the writing is excellent. I’ve heard that some of Sedaris’ other books are even more enjoyable than this one, and I can’t wait to read them.

Other Blog Reviews:
somewhere i have never travelled
A Striped Armchair
books i done read
Just A (Reading) Fool
(Have I missed yours? Let me know and I’ll add it to this list.)


  1. Yey, you like Sedaris!

    I think I've mentioned already (in a lot of comments regarding Sedaris) that the reason I first bought his book Me Talk Pretty One Day is that I saw him read an excerpt from that in David Letterman's show. He was funny then. He's still funny now.

    Better get that and his other books. Later hopefully I'll finally have my own copy of When You Are Engulfed in Flames :)


  2. I'm almost done with my first Sedaris book, "When You Are Engulfed In Flames". I, too, would never have picked him up without all the blog influence. I'm so glad I did! Maybe I'll pick this one up next. . . :-)

    Have a great day!

  3. "6 to 8 Black Men" made me laugh until I cried. I didn't read it though, I listened to the book on tape read by Mr. Sedaris himself.

  4. I love his writing so much. Thanks for linking my review! Another book in a similar vein that I loved is "A Supposedly Fun Thing That I'll Never Do Again" by David Foster Wallace. Different style but still smart, funny writing.

  5. David S. is one of my favorite essayists, he writes the BEST good as the stories are in print, they're even better when you listen to him read them - he's a frequent contributor to public radio's This American Life, the shows are all available online (

  6. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed him so much! I have yet to read anything by him, but after a review Chris wrote last year, I bought a couple of his books (this one you reviewed is one of them) for Rich last Christmas. I know I definitely need to give him a go one day soon, as I'm sure I'll just love his writing. I already love him on NPR.

  7. I'm glad you liked this! I really liked it, too, but I thought Naked and Me Talk Pretty One Day even more. I haven't had a chance to read When You Are Engulfed in Flames yet...

  8. This is one of Sedaris' books I haven't read, although I do love him! I've got it on my paperspine queue, though. What you say about how he intertwines tragedy and humor is just perfect.

  9. Reading David Sedaris is hilarious enough as it is, and listening to his books on tape (read by him) are even funnier. I listen to audiobooks to help me fall asleep, and even though his voice is not the most relaxing, his books are my favorite to fall asleep to.

  10. I haven't read any David Sedaris, so it sounds like I have a lot to look forward to. I love that!

  11. Well, on the other side of the coin, I thought the book was the biggest waste of my time ever.

    I wish I understood why people think he's funny. I just don't see it.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it, however.


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  13. He does sound fabulous! I have When You Are Engulfed In Flames to read, but apparently there is so much more!

    Glad you enjoyed it!

  14. i've only read Engulfed in Flames, but like you I never would have purchased it if it wasn't for bloggers... (I think Debi calls that, the blame game!)

  15. Lightheaded: I do :D And I will get them for sure. Your recommendation was one of the reasons why I picked this up, so thanks!

    Lezlie: And I just might pick that one up next :) I look forward to your review.

    Jessica: I have to check the audio versions out! Everyone says such great things about them.

    Daphe: Me too. And you're welcome! And thanks for the recommendations. I already intended to check out David Foster Wallace, so I'll start with that one.

    Ken, thanks so much for that link! I can totally imagine how they'd be even better with him reading.

    Debi: Chris' review was one of the reason why I bought this too. I think you'll love his writing too :)

    Jennie: You're not the first person I hear saying that. I have to read those too.

    Dewey: He does it so well, doesn't he? I look forward to your review of this one.

    Charley: As I was telling Ken, I can imagine! Perhaps I'll get Naked or When You Are Engulfed in Flames as an audiobook.

    Robin, I hope you enjoy his writing!

    CJ: I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy this one. I do think he's funny, but I really don't know how to explain why. That's how it is with humour, I's hard to put into words what makes it work, and what's hilarious for one person leaves another completely indifferent.

    Mariel: I look forward to your thoughts on that one!

    Deslily: Yup...but it's the best kind of blame :)

  16. I think he's fantastic and if you ever hear him read one of his stories it's even better. I got the chance to hear him at a book signing a couple of years ago and it was a hoot. My favorite Sedaris book is "Naked" so highly recommend it. I can't wait to read his new one.

  17. I love his books - not only are they beautifully written and hysterically funny, they are also such complete portraits of people - with all their flaws and fancies intact.

  18. Iliana: It sounds that I really must hear him read! How great that you got to go to a signing :)

    Susan: Very well said!

  19. I saw an interview with this author not too long ago and I thought he was a real hoot. I will have to try reading one of his books. Thanks for a great review!

  20. I've wondered about this book when I've seen it in the bookstore *everywhere* a couple of years ago. Interestingly enough I've never seen a review on the blogosphere. I'll have to see if I can find a copy somewhere! I had to laugh a little at your opening line as I wrote something a little similar for my persepolis review that is scheduled to post tonight after I leave town. The Internet is great, huh?

  21. Bless blogland for great recommendations. Sounds like an interesting collection of stories. It's good when people can recognise the humour in their own lives.

  22. Literary Feline, you're welcome :) I hope you enjoy his books!

    Trish: I hope you manage to find a copy. And yes, the internet is great!

    Rhinoa: It really is. And being able to laugh at your own misfortune is also a great way of dealing with it.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.