Book 39: Naked- David Sedaris

‘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.


8 thoughts on “Book 39: Naked- David Sedaris

  1. I was just sharing on my newsletter that I’ve been dipping in and out of his other short essay collection, Calypso. And he does read his work very well. I think he writes with reading them out loud in mind. I saw him perform his SantaLand Diaries in Portland Oregon ages ago. Hilarious.


  2. David Sedaris is so great! I got to hear him live once. He tells a great story about his job as a department store elf at Christmas. They often play it on NPR that day. So many funny stories!


    1. Some of the stories are simply brilliant aren’t they. In this collection there’s a story on him experiencing drama as a young teen and it was the highlight. I was out exercising and had to switch to music — laughing that much in public isn’t ideal!
      Hey Matt, how about those HK beaches….still closed here. What on earth is going on?!


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