I found this book to be rather humorous and somewhat controversial. Me Talk Pretty One Day is a collection of short stories from the life of the author. In the first story “Go Carolina”, Sedaris writes this “In order to enjoy ourselves, we learned to be duplicitous. Our stacks of Cosmopolitan were topped with an unread issue of Boy’s Life or Sports Illustrated, and our decoupage projects were concealed beneath the sporting equipment we never asked for but always received” (10). This has to do with how he’s not interested in sports and how that’s seen as not being masculine. I must agree on how witty this is and found myself chuckling while reading but I think he may have crossed some lines possibly.
He then goes on to say, “She was probably thinking along the lines of SPEECH THERAPY LAB, though a more appropriate marker would have read FUTURE HOMOSEXUALS OF AMERICA” (10). Sedaris jests about people with lisps and homosexuality which could be found offensive by some. Earlier he talked about how it was all boys who were receiving help and how they were like him and either did or enjoyed ‘girly things’,
My Feelings on the Book
This book has made me feel many things. The main feelings that it has brought upon me from positive to negative. It made me feel joy and sadness, but it also made me feel concerned for the author at points.
We’ll start off with the joy this book has brought me. In “Nutcracker.com” Sedaris talks about computers. “More than once I accidently pushed a button and recoiled in terror as the blank screen came to life with exotic tropical fish or swarms of flying toasters” (145). That line just makes me laugh out loud. I mean this was when computers were more primitive and bulky, so when Sedaris presses one of the keys on the keyboard the screensaver or something just pops up and scares him. I just find it humorous.
This book can be sad at points. In the story Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist, Sedaris talks about his drug use and how it helped him with his art. “Everything around me was art, from the stains in my bathtub to the razor blade and short length of drinking straw I used to cut and ingest my speed” (46). Just how he got into crack and speed is sad by itself, but when his dealer goes into rehab he freaks out and begs her to stay so he would be able to finish his art projects.
One point that made me feel concerned was in “Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist” where you can see the effect Sedaris’ drug addiction has affected him. “It was gone in ten days, and with it went my ability to do anything but roll on the floor and cry” (55). His grandmother gave him money that he used to purchase what he had hoped would last him a month but he used it all up in ten days. Later he talks about how the high of speed is followed by deep depression.
- “Go Carolina” is the first story of the book. It’s what introduces most to what is David Sedaris. It talks about his background as a child and how he had a lisp growing up. He also talks a lot about homosexuality and later on in the book we find how he he has dated other men so it’s kind of foreshadowing. (3-15)
- “Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist” is about how Sedaris was an artist trying to become successful. It also talked about his use of crystal methamphetamine. He transferred from different colleges to others and put on art shows that were either successful or not so successful. Later his dealer goes into rehab and he begs her to stay and it all just spirals down really. (39-59)
- When he was young he grew up in New York but then his family moved to North Carolina where they had another son named Paul. Paul was something else for his high-pitched voice is different from Sedaris’ because Paul was affected by his association with country work crews and his love for hard-core rap. (60-61)
- “See You Again Yesterday” is a story about how Sedaris met his lover Hugh and their first trips together to France. Sedaris goes on about how he doesn’t want to be alone and meets Hugh. They then go to France multiple times and Sedaris doesn’t speak the language, so he has to learn words at a time. Which leads to the title story “Me Talk Pretty One Day”, where he goes back to school to learn French. (153-165)
- “Smart Guy” talks about when Sedaris took an IQ test in Paris and needed someone to compare his results with so he brought Hugh along. The test was in four parts. The tests ranged from spatial relationships to having four pairs of dominoes then having to predict what the fifth pair would be. When he got the results back he was disappointed and thought of himself as nothing but a big fat dummy even going to say that the weight of some cats was more than his IQ. Hugh then comforts him and tells him that he’s good at other things. (239-247)
“I always thought of Mister Mancini as a blowhard, a pocket playboy, but watching him dip his hamburger into a sad puddle of mayonnaise, I broadened my view and came to see him as a wee outsider, a misfit whose take-it-or-leave-it attitude had left him all alone” (27). I find this passage describing Sedaris’ guitar teacher rather interesting because of how Mister Mancini dips “… his hamburger into a sad puddle of mayonnaise” (27). I visualize a small man apathetically plunging his burger into a pile of mayo.