Monday, July 20, 2015

Me Talk Pretty One Day - A Review

Things began to come together and I went from speaking like an evil baby to speaking like a hillbilly. "Is thems the thoughts of cows?" I'd asked the butcher, pointing to the calves' brains displayed in the front window. - David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

To say I enjoyed Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris would be a gross understatement.  I laughed, I rolled, and at one point I seriously thought I was going to pee my pants because I was laughing so hard.  It is an incredibly funny, entertaining audiobook*.

Me Talk Pretty One Day is a memoir that is told in chronological order (for the most part) and focuses (again, for the most part) on three periods of Sedaris' life:  his childhood in North Carolina, his young adult years in New York City, and his time living in France.  The book as a whole does not have a unifying theme, rather each chapter provides an anecdotal snippet of his life.  Each chapter also contains a clever title that has something to do with the content of the chapter.

As I mentioned earlier, this book is hilarious.  Do not mistake that to mean that each chapter is stellar; some chapters are by far funnier than others.  Notable funny chapters, in my opinion, include:

  • City of Angels - Sedaris' recollection of when a childhood friend comes to NYC to visit and brings a rather obnoxious friend with her.
  • The Youth in Asia - A collection of tales about various Sedaris family pets over the years.
  • See You Again Yesterday, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Jesus Shaves - Three different and hilarious accounts of the author's attempt to learn French while living in France.  ("The rabbit of Easter.  He bring of the chocolate.")
  • Picka Pocketini - Sedaris' experience of being mistaken for a French pickpocket by fellow Americans while on a subway in Paris.
Being a speech pathologist, I also enjoyed hearing of Sedaris' experiences while in speech therapy as a child to correct his lisp.  I found it hilarious that he would totally avoid using any word that contained an /s/ when speaking to his "Articulation Coach" (what he called his speech therapist as to avoid using an /s/).  That is brilliant!  I've had several students over the years who could do that and they, like Sedaris, acquired such a unbelievable vocabulary as a result.

Overall, it was a quick and entertaining book.  The fact that it was narrated by Sedaris added to my enjoyment.  (I even grew accustomed to his still evident, but mild lisp!)  Several of the chapters were recorded live at some point and were used in lieu of a formal, studio recording for that chapter.  Hearing the audience laugh made the experience seem more like listening to a stand-up performance than an audiobook.

I gave Me Talk Pretty One Day a rating of 4/5 on Goodreads.

*In my reviews, I sometimes don't specifically say that I listened to the audiobook format instead of reading the printed version.  I think it is noteworthy for this review, however, to make that distinction.  I don't know if the humor I experienced while listening to the audiobook necessarily translates to the written format.  It might, but I don't know.


  1. I'm so glad to read this. I love David Sedaris but I haven't read this one yet--now I think I will definitely add it to my list!

    1. A friend of mine has, honestly, been urging me to read this book for at least 2 years. For whatever reason, I kept putting it off. I am so glad that I finally read it because it was fun. I hope you enjoy it as well!

  2. You young people and your modern technology.

    It seems like you appreciated the 'learning French' sections more than I did. Though I thought that passage about the transfer student was funny.

    1. I have often wondered if the parts I thought were the funniest would have been that funny had a I read the traditional printed book. The fact that Sedaris himself narrates the audiobook added a certain humorous element to it through his inflection. Sometimes I think it's hard for some humor to properly be conveyed through print.


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