Thursday, August 4, 2022

Review: Happy-Go-Lucky, by David Sedaris

Happy-Go-Lucky (2022), by David Sedaris. Little, Brown. Audiobook narrated by David Sedaris.

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David Sedaris's latest memoir/collection, Happy-Go-Lucky, is often anything but. The funniest essays are at the beginning and the collection slowly darkens from there, from a wry graduation speech given at Oberlin College to an essay on guns and school shootings and several pieces meditating on the death and complicated legacy of his father Lou, this collection covers a lot of ground, different moods and even some family secrets. 

If you have been following Sedaris's work through the years as I have you have probably noticed this trajectory as he's (as all of us have) been getting older. There is something I've enjoyed about growing up with him. He's about a decade older than I am and I read his books sometimes as glimpses into the future; his preoccupations aren't quite mine but they will be someday. In this book he wrestles over and over with his father's death and I can see why he may have waited for his father to die to publish some of these pieces. They are complicated, layered and incredibly moving. They must have been very difficult to write.

Sedaris also spends time on the Covid-19 pandemic and its various impacts on his life, from the ups and downs of living in New York City during its height (I can relate from my perch in north Jersey) to his frustrations with Covid culture and experiences in different parts of the country. It's often illuminating seeing things from his point of view, with his humor and irony. I don't agree with him on everything but I like how he makes his points.

This definitely isn't the laugh-out-loud Sedaris of Me Talk Pretty One Day; he deals with a lot of serious stuff but there are still chuckles to be had here and there. His now 30+ year relationship with his partner Hugh still provides fuel and there are smiles tucked into the corners, maybe not the darkest corners, but most of them. I do audio for Sedaris exclusively now because I so enjoy listening to him tell his stories but I pick up the print editions too, for completeness, and because he often does signed preorders which is nice and I do like my signed editions.

He never disappoints and I loved Happy-Go-Lucky as much as any of his books. I'm not sure it's the best first Sedaris and if you are already a fan you don't need my recommendation to read it, so if you're wondering, what I'll say is, check out one of his earlier books and get a feel for his story and his style, and see if that's something you want to pursue into later volumes. I don't think you'll regret getting on board.

I did not receive this book for review.

1 comment:

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

My hold for the audio (love that he reads his audios) came up but, I wasn't in the mood for his dry humor just yet. I suspended my hold for a few weeks but, I am looking forward to this new one. Glad you seemed to enjoy this one.