Author: David Sedaris
Publication Date: May 31, 2022
Number of Pages: 272
From Goodreads: David Sedaris returns with his first new collection of personal essays since the bestselling Calypso.
Back when restaurant menus were still printed on paper, and wearing a mask—or not—was a decision made mostly on Halloween, David Sedaris spent his time doing normal things. As Happy-Go-Lucky opens, he is learning to shoot guns with his sister, visiting muddy flea markets in Serbia, buying gummy worms to feed to ants, and telling his nonagenarian father wheelchair jokes.
But then the pandemic hits, and like so many others, he’s stuck in lockdown, unable to tour and read for audiences, the part of his work he loves most. To cope, he walks for miles through a nearly deserted city, smelling only his own breath. He vacuums his apartment twice a day, fails to hoard anything, and contemplates how sex workers and acupuncturists might be getting by during quarantine.
As the world gradually settles into a new reality, Sedaris too finds himself changed. His offer to fix a stranger’s teeth rebuffed, he straightens his own, and ventures into the world with new confidence. Newly orphaned, he considers what it means, in his seventh decade, no longer to be someone’s son. And back on the road, he discovers a battle-scarred America: people weary, storefronts empty or festooned with Help Wanted signs, walls painted with graffiti reflecting the contradictory messages of our time: Eat the Rich. Trump 2024. Black Lives Matter.
In Happy-Go-Lucky, David Sedaris once again captures what is most unexpected, hilarious, and poignant about these recent upheavals, personal and public, and expresses in precise language both the misanthropy and desire for connection that drive us all. If we must live in interesting times, there is no one better to chronicle them than the incomparable David Sedaris.
Thank you, Little, Brown and Company, for providing me with an advanced copy of this book through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
David Sedaris is one of my favourite authors, and I was thrilled when I received an advanced copy of this book. But unfortunately, I found this book to be disappointing, and I’m not sure how much more David Sedaris I’m going to read.
My issue with this book is that I found that in a lot of the essays, David Sedaris was a self-centred, grumpy old man. David Sedaris has always been a bit self-centred, you have to be a bit self-centred to churn out the sheer volume of material that he’s written about his life, but his ego really shone through in this book. He also came off as grumpier in this book. In the past, when he wrote about his family, it never felt mean, but some of the essays in this book came off as a mean-spirited. There were even moments when he portrayed Hugh as insufferable.
One of the topics that come up a lot in this book is the death of David Sedaris’ father. David Sedaris has always had a difficult relationship with his father, but you could tell that David Sedaris loved his father from the essays he wrote about him. In this book, David Sedaris writes some things that are quite cruel about his father. This might have something to do with grief or his way of processing things, but some of it was too mean-spirited for my taste.
There were a lot of moments in this book where David Sedaris was flaunting his success. Since I’ve read almost all of his other books, I know how many properties he owns and that he travels a lot. There was something about his writing in this book that made it seem like he was flaunting his wealth and success more than usual, though. For example, in one of the essays, he’s talking about how upset Hugh was that one of their properties was destroyed by a hurricane and David Sedaris just kind of shrugged it off and pointed out to the reader that he paid for the home, not Hugh.
I also had a bit of an issue reading about how David Sedaris would host dinner parties during the pandemic at the height of the lockdown. I also had a bit of an issue with how self-centred he was while discussing the black lives matter protests in New York.
There were moments in this book I enjoyed. I liked reading about David Sedaris going shopping with his sister Amy. I liked reading about his travels. I liked reading about his book tours and some of the jokes and stories he’s heard while travelling around on tour.
Overall, I didn’t love this book. I found David Sedaris to be just a bit too self-centred and grumpy, and I didn’t think this book had the same amount of charm as some of his others.
Rating: 2.5 Stars!
If you’re interested, you can purchase a copy of Happy-Go-Lucky from Amazon* here.
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