‘Naked’ is collection of autobiographical stories based on the writer’s early life. This was my first venture into the world of David Sedaris and I went with the audio version via scribd, narrated by the author himself.
Sedaris has a satirical, often perverse style based on realistic life situations. There’s a focus on the bizarre and traumatic in each of the 17 stories, and there’s often a touch of melancholy particularly at the end of stories—no doubt accentuated by Sedaris’s deadpan delivery. There’s social commentary throughout too, if you look for it, but it never dominates.
Many of his stories involve his atypical family. The story of his grandmother ‘Ya-Ya’ is a highlight. Try this for a taste:
“We would pass the afternoon at Ya Ya’s table, eating stringy boiled meat served with spinach pie. The food tasted as though it had been cooked weeks beforehand and left to age in a musty trunk. Her meals had been marinated in something dank and foreign and were cooked not in pots and pans, but in the same blackened kettles used by witches. Once we’d been served, she performed an epic version of grace. Delivered in both Greek and broken English, it involved tears and excessive hand-wringing and came off sounding less like a prayer than a spell.“David Sedaris, Naked
If you haven’t read any Sedaris, Naked is a fine introduction to his work. There are genuinely hilarious moments dotted through the book and he delivers a consistently good comic turn of phrase. I’d go for the audiobook, as the author’s peculiar voice adds a great deal to his narrative.