I stumbled upon a David Sedaris book signing a couple years ago. He read a few of his essays, and they were hilarious, so I figured I should probably grab one of his books. I’d seen him on Letterman once before at that point, but that’s about all I’d heard of him.
I picked up his newest book soon after that, which was Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, but I only just got around to it now. I had read that this probably wasn’t his best book to start on, since it’s a bit of a departure from his usual fare.
It’s a collection of short fables featuring anthropomorphic animals. Snakes, chipmunks, toads, rats, and other creatures are imbued with the worst aspects of human nature – the greed, selfishness, pride and ignorance that we encounter throughout life. Using animals works quite well to highlight how idiotic the behaviour is, and it makes it a bit silly and fun.
The cover may make it seem like a fun children’s book, but it’s filled with quite gruesome black humour. One story is a conversation between two lab rats. One rat has been in the lab for some time and is sickly with injected disease and wishing for death. The newly arrived rat is healthy and convinced the sick rat is that way because of his negative attitude. He shows the extremes of self-righteousness, hypocrisy, overreaction, and corruption in these stories, and it’s fun because it’s cute animals! With illustrations!
It’s a short and hilarious book that’s not for everyone, but I do enjoy some seething bitterness at the human race every now and then, so I enjoyed it.