When I finished reading this novel, I quickly realized that I could not really find any aspect of the work that I did not enjoy with respect to both form and content. Specifically, Sedaris’ decision to write individual stories rather than attempting to pen a traditional novel about his life experiences made this work very successful. His stories are in no particular order in relation to continuity or plot progression, but present various memories (whether partially distorted/biased or not) of Sedaris’ life. I think that this is very much how many of us think when we consider our lives. Memory does not work in a rigid, linear fashion. Though we are sure to have a sense of time as well as an awareness as to the proper placement of specific events which occurred in our lives, we tend to return to particular moments because they resonate with something that is in our present. Essentially, there are many stories which make up one’s larger story, and even though they may be considered history, they are always working in the present moment.
Sedaris’ novel seems to get at the selective nature often found in memory; however, he does not censor or dull down his stories. They are very vivid and honest. But given that this work is two hundred something pages, we also have to recognize that there was certainly some decisions to be made regarding which specific memories Sedaris would incorporate in the novel. Why is this particular story in here? (Because there is no doubting the rich history he has to choose from).
I think that the individualized stories create a larger conversation throughout the work which we began to identify in class, namely, that the specifics in one’s life has meaning and speaks to something larger than the isolated incident (because there really are no isolated incidents in one’s life when you think about it). Rather than putting together a more traditional, linear novel, Sedaris’ stories complement one another. If too many detailed memories are received all at once, a reader may easily become overwhelmed and miss out on the purpose behind an author’s decision to specifically recall the particular memory he or she is sharing. The decision to break up a work into stories such as the ones found in this novel allow for more contained, yet intense moments of impact and contact between the reader and the work overall. Furthermore, Sedaris’ use of voice as well as the manner in which he tells his stories seems to catch readers off guard; his humor is at once very funny and entertaining, but able to almost immediately elicit quite the opposite effect.