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review 2017-03-14 22:24
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls - David Sedaris

This is my first exposure to David Sedaris' writing, and I doubt it'll be my last, but this is also the first time I've ever dinged a rating for content.

 

The writing is incredibly good and hysterically funny.  I listened to the audio and Sedaris does his own narration - as he should, because I don't think anyone else could have pulled it off half as well.

 

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls is a collection of essays, mostly biographical with embellishments for comic effect.  They were all good, but even when they were laugh out loud hysterical, they were also oftentimes gritty and confronting.  There is not a topic he doesn't address upfront and without relying on innuendo.

 

I don't typically have a hard time with that; but what I do rebel against is animals being hurt or killed and/or casual references made to it in my reading.  And while Sedaris doesn't hate animals, (in the first essay he professes to be an animal lover) he is very casual about animal death and cruelty.  One particular reminiscence about capturing sea turtles I just had to skip past completely.  

 

Everything else was pretty flawless; at the end, he reads a small collection of short fictional narratives he created for use in forensics competitions (= fancy name for 'debate team').  These were very gritty, very angry, and difficult to listen to, although they were really good.  Hypocrisy was a strong theme running through these.

 

So while I enjoyed all his essays about traveling, life abroad, growing up, etc., I was not at all comfortable with the casual, easy way he had with telling stories involving bad ends for the animals.  There was a distinct lack of compassion or regret in these essays and their casual matter-of-factness made me uncomfortable about the author as a person.  So I dinged my rating by a star.

 

If you have a thicker skin than I do (admittedly, this is most people), and enjoy edgier humour, definitely give this a look if you haven't already.   

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review 2017-03-12 10:17
My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth
My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth - Wendy E. Simmons

In much the same way Simmons felt about her holiday in North Korea, I found her memoir of it both horrifying and educational.  I'm not sure I'd have been able to find the hilarity the way she did, had I been the one on the holiday, but I certainly appreciated her humorous perspective and her writing.

 

As she goes to great pains to make clear, she was there as a tourist; she does not pretend at any point to understand the political underpinnings of the tragedy that is North Korea.  This is a memoir of her holiday there, and her personal experiences during those 10 days, both the horrifying and the heart-touching moments.  Oh, and a LOT of Twilight Zone moments.

 

I have to say, I've had this book for awhile, but hesitated to open it because the cover gave me the impression it would be totally different that it is.  That cover photos is a photo Simmons took while there, when she was invited to a wedding reception on the spur of the moment.  That woman is the bride to be.  Knowing that gave this book a whole different spin in my head, and highlighted the comedy of the absurd that ran throughout those 10 days.

 

If you enjoy travel memoirs, and you're curious about the culture of a totally closed society minus any political philosophy, and heaps of swearing and humor, definitely check this book out.  I did not want to put it down from the moment I opened the cover.

 

ETA:  I have the print edition and it's loaded with great full-color photographs that just added that extra level of interest to the book.

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text 2017-03-08 15:30
(Nasty) Women's Day
Nasty Women - Laura Waddell,Laura Lam,Ren Aldridge,Nadine Aisha Jassat,Sasha De Buyl-Pisco,Elise Hines,Alice Tarbuck,Jonatha Kottler,Chitra Ramaswamy,Christina Neuwirth,Belle Owen,Zeba Talkhani,Katie Muriel,Joelle A. Owusu,Kaite Welsh,Claire L. Heuchan,Jen McGregor,Me

This essay collection edited by 404 Ink is out today. I'm not quite done with it yet, but so far it is great--intersectional, wise, sometimes painful. I'm only reading things by and about women in honor of International Women's Day today, and this book couldn't come at a better time.

Image result for smash the patriarchy gif

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review 2017-02-27 02:40
NPR Laughter Therapy
NPR Laughter Therapy A Comedy Collection for the Chronically Serious - (U.S.) National Public Radio Inc.

A collection of NPR's funnier interviews, April Fool's day gags, news stories, etc.  Like in any collection, there were some I found funnier than others and 1 just fell sort of flat.

 

It's a short, easy listen and it was fun to hear a few voices that aren't with us any more (Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller).  I miss NPR, so seeing this in my local library was a nice boost to the spirit.  

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review 2017-02-09 14:11
Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame - Mara Wilson
Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame - Mara Wilson,Mara Wilson,-Penguin Audio-

Mara Wilson is another brilliant storyteller. Sometimes she’s amusing, but mostly she just tells her stories in a way that really sucks you in. What is it like being the adult after being a child star? There’s a lot of anxiety and grief in here, so don’t confuse this with the other primarily funny books.    Library copy

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