Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Like Brother, Like Sister?

Amy Sedaris' I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence is pretty much as ridiculous a cookbook and a perfect, what I like to call, "coffee-table" book (perfect for keeping on the living room coffee table so people can pick it up and look throuhg when they are sitting at the couch). There are vibrant drawings and photos, delicious recipes and hilarious short stories on her experiences and pieces of advice (that for the most part, actually seem useful) for being a host/hostess or guest. I think we would all agree of the previous claims I just made. But it almost hard for me to believe that she was related to David Sedaris whom we read a few weeks ago. Yeah, they are both funny and both seem to put themselves out there in a humorous manner, but their methods are completely day and night.
Amy goes about her book in a very visual sense: the bright colors and funny pictures really enhance the text. We hardly have to use our imaginations while reading this book because just as you are about to picture in your mind what Amy is describing, there is a page reference to later in the book that gives a perfect visual to her description. The book is engaging and almost made me feel as if I was attending one of her parties or even hosting one in the same fashion. I felt like I was "in" on her group of friends and really incorporated into what she spends the most time on throughout her life. David's book Dress Your Family in Courderoy and Denim was completely different. While he was still talking about his life, it was more of a complete memoir of his past with a purpose behind it. In my opinion, David wrote so we would be able to figure out who we were and the humor of it was a bonus. The humor was a bit of an ice-breaker or a way to show that imperfection and joking is important in life and important in finding your true purpose. Sorry, Amy, but I really don't think you were going that deep when you were writing this book. While it seems that there could be an underlying message on how to be a good hostess and guest, or that you don't need to spend a lot of money to make yourself beautiful, it seems to be more accidental and spontaneous than David's attempt.
After realizing how different these two works and writers are, I tried to find some sort of common ground to show that these two actually came from the same household and try and find a similarity. I came across an example in the section "Price Chompers" (page 167). David told a lot of stories from his childhood, but Amy takes a lot more recent stories and experiences, those from when she entertained some rich uncle, elderly person, or alcoholic. But this section talks about a past time in her life that she shared with her siblings. This section focused around making your house into a cheap movie theater, and she says that she and her siblings would do tis when they were younger. Amy references television in this section saying, "As far as I'm concerned, entertaining and television never go together. ... If the television is going to be on, then that should be the focus of the evening" (167). This quote went off like a little light bulb in my head because David Sedaris used T.V. as a recurring theme in his book, and here it was in Amy's book! David used T.V. as a purposeful example of how society allows themselves to become distracted by images on the screen and how we need to shift our attention away from T.v. and into real life, while Amy uses T.V. as a way of entertaining in her "real life" situations. The real question I am left with is, is T.V. really that detrimental to our experience of real life as David suggests, or is it more of a way of enhancing the real life situations that we face through entertaining a crowd and being entertained?

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