Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A gift even greater than googly eyes.

We like you too, Amy Sedaris, for providing a look at humorous writing in an entirely new and amusing format. Maybe it was the title, directly addressing us with the affirmation that yes she does approve of us. Maybe it was the personal letters addressed to us at the beginning of the book. It could have been the informal tone, the personalized advice boxes, or the various photos and drawings selected just for us. Suffice it to say, that the overall format of the book brought us an interactive brand of humor that invites the reader to join this off the wall hostess in the act of entertaining.

Before this we had seen a book of advice (thank you Tyler Perry), a collection of personal essays (you shouldn’t have darling brother), and various other narrative and essay style works in this class. This is the first book, however, with brilliant, full page, color photos, illustrations, recipes, random text boxes, and more. From the doodle of a telephone with the words “good times” scrolled next to it (pg. 21), to the how-to section of illustrations and step by step directions to Paul Dinello’s Calf Stretcher (no page number included), this book is very obviously outside the norm. It serves not only as a collection of humorous advice, delicious recipes, and interesting craft ideas – it is much more than that. With the photos (featuring Sedaris herself in many instances), layered page designs (cluttered with boxes such as “appropriate things to say” in the grieving section), and perfectly tailored illustrations (the vaginal self exam doodle in Ladies Night), you get a personal sense of Sedaris.

It is almost like a scrapbook because there are so many tiny details that go into every page, showing you, telling you, and instructing you to become a part of the world as Sedaris sees it. Though it didn’t address greater issues as Tyler Perry’s might, it didn’t need to. This is a fun representation of what it means to entertain, according to Sedaris. It is about offering a bit of yourself (and lets just say she isn’t afraid to show us what she’s got as indicated by the naked photo covered in sprinkles), and not being afraid to laugh at the ridiculous and enjoy the incongruities. She laughs at her guests, and her themes are outrageous, and she often says the things that people are afraid to say. But we can forgive her this because she targets herself as much as the next person. She gives the rules one minute and then explains that she doesn’t actually follow them either (pg. 36). You get the idea that she is simply being real, no pretenses and no ulterior motives behind this book. As she declares from the cover, she likes us, so it’s not difficult to believe that she just wants to give us something. What we as the readers end with is a colorful presentation of Sedaris and her world, as scattered and eclectic as her sense of humor.

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