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Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000)

by David Sedaris

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
21,177370203 (4.04)430
Biography & Autobiography. Essays. Nonfiction. Humor (Nonfiction.) A new collection from David Sedaris is cause for jubilation. His recent move to Paris has inspired hilarious pieces, including Me Talk Pretty One Day, about his attempts to learn French. His family is another inspiration. You Cant Kill the Rooster is a portrait of his brother who talks incessant hip-hop slang to his bewildered father. And no one hones a finer fury in response to such modern annoyances as restaurant meals presented in ludicrous towers and cashiers with 6-inch fingernails. Compared by The New Yorker to Twain and Hawthorne, Sedaris has become one of our best-loved authors. Sedaris is an amazing reader whose appearances draw hundreds, and his performancesincluding a jaw-dropping impression of Billie Holiday singing I wish I were an Oscar Meyer weinerare unforgettable. Sedariss essays on living in Paris are some of the funniest hes ever written. At last, someone even meaner than the French! The sort of blithely sophisticated, loopy humour that might have resulted if Dorothy Parker and James Thurber had had a love child. Entertainment Weekly on Barrel Fever Sidesplitting Not one of the essays in this new collection failed to crack me up; frequently I was helpless. The New York Times Book Review on Naked.… (more)
  1. 60
    Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell (rosylibrarian)
  2. 10
    My Miserable Lonely Lesbian Pregnancy by Andrea Askowitz (lolo1978)
    lolo1978: Few books have made me laugh out loud. If Me Talk Pretty One Day made you laugh, give My Miserable Lonely Lesbian Pregnancy at read.
  3. 00
    The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz (cransell)
  4. 14
    Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk (Southernlit)
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» See also 430 mentions

English (367)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (369)
Showing 1-5 of 367 (next | show all)
When you make your living writing books of essays, usually prominently featuring your childhood, you're definitely liable to accusations that your treatment of the truth is...flexible, which is something David Sedaris knows all too well. Me Talk Pretty Some Day is the first of his books I've ever read, and I have to admit, some of the pieces it contains do strike me as a little too good to be exactly, totally true. The book is separated into two parts: the first focusing on his early life, mostly his childhood with his family, and the second focusing on his adult life, mostly the portions in which he lived in France with his boyfriend. He didn't speak French before he spent time there, and his frustrating attempts to learn the language are a major through-line of the back half of the book.

As in any essay collection, there are hits and misses. For me, personally, there were many more of the former than the latter here. Humor in books is a tricky thing...even if I find something funny, the most it usually provokes is a smile. An out-and-out laugh is a rare thing, but Sedaris managed to get a few good chuckles out of me (including while I was reading it on an airplane, which made me seem A sane I'm sure). "A Shiner Like A Diamond" (about David's sister Amy freaking out their father by wearing the bottom half of a fat suit on a trip home) and "Make That A Double" (about Ugly Americans refusing to even try speaking French, and the weirdness of learning to speak a language with gendered nouns) were particular highlights for me, but most of the pieces were decent to good, in large part because they weren't ever boring.

And that's where we get into the truth-telling. These are funny stories, based in fact. But are they true? There's been more than one examination into the accuracy of the stories Sedaris tells, concluding that at least some of them are significantly embellished. So if they aren't really all that true, sometimes, does it really matter? For me, I guess the answer is that it depends. For these kinds of books (memoir-ish essays, usually humorous or meant to be), I'm generally proceeding under the idea that there might be some minor tweaks, usually to fill in dialogue or some of the finer details. But it seems like some of these stories in this book (particularly the one about the guitar teacher) are more than just slightly spruced up. And that's a little more bothersome. Part of the reason some of these stories are so funny isn't just because they recount humorous situations, but because those situations are supposed to have been real. If they're not actually real...I feel like there should be some sort of acknowledgement that these stories are based in fact but might have been dazzled up to tell a better story, maybe?

That probably sounds more negative than I intend it. At the end of the day, even after I read about the likelihood that some of these stories weren't exactly real life, I did enjoy reading the book. And for me, that's what counts. I enjoyed it enough, honestly, that I'm likely to continue reading other David Sedaris books, because I like his writing. My husband tells me that this is his best collection, so I'm curious to read more and see if I agree with him. I'd recommend Me Talk Pretty One Day to anyone looking for a mood-lifter (especially if you, too, have suffered through the indignity of learning a foreign language). ( )
  ghneumann | Jun 14, 2024 |
Such a strange book. Much of it was really dull, but then there'd be bits where I laughed till the tears ran down my face. ( )
  Abcdarian | May 18, 2024 |
This book is in reality a series of short stories none of which despite what the blurb did I find "wildly entertaining", one or two made me smile slightly but most simply made me grimace. The first half of the book contains personal stories about his time in the US as a child whilst the second half is about his time living in France with his boyfriend and his struggles with the French language.

My biggest issue with this book is that I felt absolutely no sympathy for the guy. He seems rather self-centred and arrogant to me, in fact I felt more sorry for his family members for having to be related to him. I get some of the jokes that he tried to make, but a lot of the stories seemed simply bizarre to me. Probably it's better to hear these stories in an audio book, but even then I'm not convinced that I found him particularly interesting. Not for me. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Mar 10, 2024 |
I didn't mind this book at all-- in fact, I read it cover to cover in a few hours. It was mostly interesting and well-written, and it definitely passed the time. But I'd been led to expect that Sedaris was piss-your-pants funny, and it turned out not to be the case for me. Guess Bill Bryson is secure in his place! ( )
  caedocyon | Feb 23, 2024 |
Wow.
That's not a good wow.

When I read a review which stated that Sedaris was 'one fo the worst human beings in history,' I was perplexed as to how someone could be moved so much as to have that opinion. Then I read it. Then I understood.

I don't know what is more incredible - the fact Sedaris is a sucessful author or the fact that people like him/his writing! Without an ounce of hyperbole, David Sedaris is an unhappy, conceited, ignorant, self-obsessed, fearful, judgemental, unaware, unintelligent see you next Tuesday!

He is a man who clearly thinks very little of others (a woman nearly falling from a fairground ride only led him to regret she didn't as he became deprived of a box office story about it) and hasn't the capacity to effectively reflect on his own issues (with learning, compromising, not getting his own way) and see how much of a princess he is (recting to an unflushed mega-turd like it was a life or death situation).

Who goes to France to be with a partner and does the bare minimum to involve himself in French society? (spending most of his time watching English films in local cinemas even refusing to show friends the sights when they come visit instead leaving them a spare key and a map to go by themselves). Who gets jealous of their boyfriend's African schooltrips to an Ethiopian slaughterhouse because they are more exciting than his and hence passes such experiences off as his own because he's so obsessed with appearing interesting in the eyes of others? Who thinks someone has an inferior IQ level due to the not taking up of advice from a waiter then actually ends up with a significantly lower IQ than said person? Who laments having a single maid over a houseful of servants because it signifies more importance? Who spends an entire story being insulted on a Paris metro, explaining his hate for the insulter only to end said story by doing absolutely nothing?

You know who.

I've been let down by the goodreads rating system. I have two more of his books as they all are above 4 stars. I will try another but if there is even a hint of the drivel held in these pages, of self-obsessed spoilt princess musings which ignore the trials and struggles of and empathy towards others, I shall not hesistate to get rid of them. If I could give this 0 stars I would. Steer clear, it's horrendous. ( )
  Dzaowan | Feb 15, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 367 (next | show all)
Whereas ''Naked'' reads like a series of overlapping autobiographical essays, this volume feels more like a collection of magazine pieces or columns on pressing matters like the care and feeding of family pets and the travails of dining in Manhattan. But if Mr. Sedaris sometimes sounds as though he were making do with leftover material, ''Talk Pretty'' still makes for diverting reading.
 
The gifted Sedaris has not been hard enough on himself. At the risk of sounding patronizing, I suspect there is a better writer in there than he is as yet willing to let out.
 
This collection is, in its way, damned by its own ambitious embrace of variety; with so many pieces assembled, the stronger ones always punish the weaker... But reading or listening to David Sedaris is well worth the lulls for the thrills.
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Sedarisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aison, Cathryn S.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colombo, MatteoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hayden, MelissaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaye, Michael IanCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pardoen, IrvingTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my father, Lou
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Anyone who watches even the slightest amount of TV is familiar with the scene: An agent knocks on the door of some seemingly ordinary home or office.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Biography & Autobiography. Essays. Nonfiction. Humor (Nonfiction.) A new collection from David Sedaris is cause for jubilation. His recent move to Paris has inspired hilarious pieces, including Me Talk Pretty One Day, about his attempts to learn French. His family is another inspiration. You Cant Kill the Rooster is a portrait of his brother who talks incessant hip-hop slang to his bewildered father. And no one hones a finer fury in response to such modern annoyances as restaurant meals presented in ludicrous towers and cashiers with 6-inch fingernails. Compared by The New Yorker to Twain and Hawthorne, Sedaris has become one of our best-loved authors. Sedaris is an amazing reader whose appearances draw hundreds, and his performancesincluding a jaw-dropping impression of Billie Holiday singing I wish I were an Oscar Meyer weinerare unforgettable. Sedariss essays on living in Paris are some of the funniest hes ever written. At last, someone even meaner than the French! The sort of blithely sophisticated, loopy humour that might have resulted if Dorothy Parker and James Thurber had had a love child. Entertainment Weekly on Barrel Fever Sidesplitting Not one of the essays in this new collection failed to crack me up; frequently I was helpless. The New York Times Book Review on Naked.

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A recent transplant to Paris, humorist David Sedaris, bestselling author of "Naked", presents a collection of his strongest work yet, including the title story about his hilarious attempt to learn French.
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