Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sedaris' Spirit: freedom of expression, to express

David and Amy Sedaris have definitely been my favorite works so far this semester, and I have a feeling that I will still feel this way in the next couple of weeks when the semester comes to an end. Each invests so much of themselves in their respective works- and it seems like it would have been really fun growing up in their family. When I first skimmed over this book after it finally arrived in the bookstore, I thought it seemed really cool and reminded me a great deal of a post secret book, filled with many eclectic, interesting things. This work is really quite charming because it is so unique and raw. Aside from all of the awesome recipes, Sedaris’ spirit is contagious; she makes readers want to host a party. There is an excitement very much present throughout the book, and it is perfect because of its active rejection of all that perfection has come to represent within our mainstream, “proper” society.

We started to discuss the overall structure of the book last class as well, and part of what I love about it, part of what makes it great is the nonlinear progression. Though much of the work is seemingly random, there is definitely a purpose. This is simply Sedaris’ way of expressing who she is; it is her way of sharing herself with others through this book. It is fun to read through not knowing what she will discuss next, or where she is even going. Though there is a purpose behind this work, there are no cold calculations. There is fluidity rather than a rigid structure. Sedaris adheres to no preset structure and instead goes about everything in her own way. By deconstructing such structures, Sedaris is making a point. The manner in which we go about creating a party or a home is more valuable than the finished product. The end result will benefit from this approach as well. Sedaris’ book is fun because the spirit with which she creates her parties, her home, and her work deal with what is actually important rather than what we tend to consider important. Her spirit and her work are attractive because of all of this; even though most of us typically live by many of the artificial ideals we construct, we do not really seek them in our personal lives. Sedaris is real and that is why her work is so successful. She is able to speak to something in readers that they often do not even entertain or practice in their own lives.

Sedaris achieves a great balance of light as well as heavier moments in her work. Her humor often comes out of her deviations from the more typically accepted standards we tend to subscribe to when it comes to etiquette. One of my very favorite pages is actually a picture, page 105 in the chapter on Children. When I first came across this photograph, and every time I return to it- I cannot help but laugh. It is perfect; I almost want to tear it out of the book and frame it. It is just so funny. The matching outfits, the paper clip necklaces. This is not the picture a parent would most likely choose when getting their child photographed. The juxtaposition of Amy’s smiling face and this little girl’s frightened, unhappy expression kills me and I love it. I am not even sure who she is, my guess is her niece, but I think it is a perfect picture because it resembles more of an outtake. This picture, to me, represents the spirit of Amy Sedaris, or at least the way I see it through her book.

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