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David Sedaris’ Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk reads a little bit like Johnny Knoxville--if Jonny Knoxville could manage to be witty and incisive. The better comparison is probably that David Sedaris gives Jackass a run for its gross-out money. Doesn’t disgusting, sharp, and hilarious beat out disgusting and (debatably) funny?
In his previous nonfiction collections, Sedaris may have dabbled in (literal) bathroom humor, but in Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, he really dives in. He’s also moved away from biographical stories with this book. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is a “bestiary” of very short stories, full of animals acting like people. Acting like selfish, petty, silly people, but people nonetheless. The happy endings are sparse, and when they do show up, they’re still pretty gross.
Profound as Well as Nauseating
All said, I loved Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. The stories are all very short, but perceptive and funny. There’s a lot of foulness, but for every description that tested my gag reflex, there were several moments that made me stop, put the book down, and think. The characters are all animals, but they’re also deeply human.
You can read one of the short stories, and hear Sedaris discuss the book, on NPR. One of the great pleasures of the book for me was hearing Sedaris’ voice come through the text. His books are almost better when he reads them aloud, so I’ll probably be picking up the audiobook version as well.
Nicole Pasini has worked on library programs and collections for teens, children, and adults. She likes it when animals wear clothes and she has a high tolerance for things that are disgusting.