I feel compelled to quote not the book but the back cover blurb because Lauren Hubbard said it best:
“Age and family occupy beloved humorist Sedaris’s latest collection of essays. His observations feel sharper and often darker than in previous collections, as he ponders the inevitable breakdown of the human body, the shame attendant with illness and age, the nature of addiction, and the eccentricities of his family. Though middle age may have made his shades of gray blacker, the wit and incisiveness that make Sedaris much-adored remain.”
I found it telling that the cabin that most of the collection’s stories touch on was named the “sea section.” Of course the Sedaris clan can’t resist an off-color pun, but even while being slightly crass, the name echoes family as deeply and unconventionally as the essays themselves. I can’t imagine a collection of David Sedaris essays without his family.
Which is why it was bracing, if understandable, reading about the last time he saw his sister Tiffany, who committed suicide. The Sedaris family as written by David were perhaps biting with one another, or unusual, but there was always an undercurrent of love in all the bickering. Here, some of the artificiality Sedaris has been accused of is missing, as the reader is exposed to some of the ugliness of family, aging, and sedaris’ own failings without the ironic distance. Perhaps my favorite collection, if not the easiest to read.