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Naked
Cover of Naked
Naked
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In Naked, David Sedaris's message alternately rendered in Fakespeare, Italian, Spanish, and pidgin Greek is the same: pay attention to me.
Whether he's taking to the road with a thieving quadriplegic, sorting out the fancy from the extra-fancy in a bleak fruit-packing factory, or celebrating Christmas in the company of a recently paroled prostitute, this collection of memoirs creates a wickedly incisive portrait of an all-too-familiar world. It takes Sedaris from his humiliating bout with obsessive behavior in A Plague of Tics to the title story, where he is finally forced to face his naked self in the mirrored sunglasses of a lunatic. At this soulful and moving moment, he picks potato chip crumbs from his pubic hair and wonders what it all means.
This remarkable journey into his own life follows a path of self-effacement and a lifelong search for identity, leaving him both under suspicion and overdressed.

In Naked, David Sedaris's message alternately rendered in Fakespeare, Italian, Spanish, and pidgin Greek is the same: pay attention to me.
Whether he's taking to the road with a thieving quadriplegic, sorting out the fancy from the extra-fancy in a bleak fruit-packing factory, or celebrating Christmas in the company of a recently paroled prostitute, this collection of memoirs creates a wickedly incisive portrait of an all-too-familiar world. It takes Sedaris from his humiliating bout with obsessive behavior in A Plague of Tics to the title story, where he is finally forced to face his naked self in the mirrored sunglasses of a lunatic. At this soulful and moving moment, he picks potato chip crumbs from his pubic hair and wonders what it all means.
This remarkable journey into his own life follows a path of self-effacement and a lifelong search for identity, leaving him both under suspicion and overdressed.

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Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 3, 1997
    NPR commentator Sedaris can hardly be called a humorist in the ordinary sense. The memoirs and jeux d'esprit that make up his first book, Barrel Fever, are too personally revealing to be domestic satire, and the writer they reveal is more eccentric--okay, weirder--than most domestic satirists. Sedaris is instead an essayist who happens to be very funny. Only two of the pieces in this new collection, "A Plague of Tics" and "c.o.g.," match Barrel Fever laugh for laugh. The first concerns Sedaris's childhood nervous compulsions and disorders, the second his later, Northwestern vagabondage. In the other essays (some of which originated as NPR broadcasts), Sedaris aims for a subtler sort of comedy. Several pieces describe his relationship with his mother, who is clearly the source of Sedaris's earthy sense of humor. That he manages in these pages to sketch such a memorable, seductive character (and, without sentimentality, to describe her death from cancer) is a high achievement, perhaps his highest to date. Most of the other essays recount Sedaris's misadventures, emotional and vocational, such as those he experienced as a hitchhiker ("Drugs were the easy part; I carried them as a courtesy and offered them when asked. What threw me were the sexual advances. How much did they expect me to accomplish at fifty miles per hour, and why choose me, a perfect stranger? When I thought of sex, I pictured someone standing before me crying, `I love you so much that... I don't even know who I am anymore.' "). Even at his most wistful, Sedaris never loses his native taste for raunch, whether the subject is fearsome dildos or dressage at a nudist camp--and although the book's off-color passages cannot be quoted here, Mrs. Sedaris would certainly approve. So will her son's many fans.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from April 1, 1997
    Sedaris (Barrel Fever, LJ 5/1/94) has fashioned a funny memoir of his wonderfully offbeat life. To call his family "dysfunctional" would be enormous understatement and beside the point; Sedaris's relatives and other companions become vital characters on the page. We see his mother serving drinks to the string of teachers who want to discuss her son's compulsions to lick light switches and make high-pitched noises. We travel with Sedaris and his quadriplegic hitchhiking companion, listen to his foul-mouthed seat mate on a long bus trip, and accompany the author on a hilariously self-conscious visit to a nudist colony. Sedaris's humor is wickedly irreverent but not mean. Traveling with him is well worth it for the laughs and his generous human sensibility. Highly recommended.--Mary Paumier Jones, Rochester P.L., N.Y.

  • Booklist

    February 15, 1997
    Readers familiar with Sedaris' hilarious National Public Radio commentaries will hear his distinctive radio voice in their minds as they read his newest collection of wicked autobiographical writings, but few if any of these unnervingly frank, cynical, and explicit tales are suitable for the airwaves--and therein lies their power. As Sedaris chronicles the low points of his life, from his suffering as a boy from debilitatingly compulsive behavior (licking light switches, counting steps) to his earliest, terrifying intimations of his homosexuality, to some near-death hitchhiking experiences, he goes further than he's ever gone before, leaving his readers breathless with laughter and wide-eyed with wonder at his daring both out in the world and on the page. A self-described "smart-ass," Sedaris is a gifted satirist with an uncanny knack for re-creating dialogue and revealing fantasies. And his targets are always worthy: people of wretched insensitivity and prejudice, be it sexual or racial. Brutally honest and brilliantly eloquent, Sedaris is positively tonic. ((Reviewed February 15, 1997))(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 1997, American Library Association.)

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