Monday, May 21, 2012

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris

TITLE: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary
AUTHOR: David Sedaris
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Little, Brown and Company/2010
GENRE: Humour
SERIES: No. But there are plenty of other books by this author that I recommend.
SOURCE: The public library

Goodreads / Author's Website

Summary From Goodreads
Featuring David Sedaris's unique blend of hilarity and heart, this new collection of keen-eyed animal-themed tales is an utter delight. Though the characters may not be human, the situations in these stories bear an uncanny resemblance to the insanity of everyday life. With original illustrations by Ian Falconer, author of the bestsellingOlivia series of children's books, these stories are David Sedaris at his most observant, poignant, and surprising.

I'm normally a huge fan of David Sedaris. I think I've read every other book he's written. However, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk was not my favourite. In this collection of short stories, Sedaris has infused familiar animals with some very human characteristics. Mice keep pets and owls seek knowledge while some larks vacation in South America. It's a very interesting concept and parts of it were fantastic; however, other parts were quite off putting. 

This book is filled with Sedaris' style of humour. I just found it to be jarring when coming from these animals. It seemed harsher. These are no longer stories about prostitutes coming home for dinner, instead there are murderous rabbits and gouged out eyes. It's the combination of these awful human traits with the brutality of the animal world that makes it darker than his previous works, at least in my mind. 

This is an illustrated book. Each story has at least one original illustration to go with it. Be warned, these illustrations are not for the faint of heart. They go into graphic detail about the most disturbing sections of the stories in many cases. There is definitely blood. I know that I'm a little squeamish so I averted my eyes for a few of them. Yes. I'm that sad. They're just such sad pictures!

Sedaris is still a brilliant humorist and there are stories that I loved, that made me laugh. The Parrot and the Potbellied Pig for instance was a gem. I definitely laughed out loud for sections of that particular story about a journalist parrot writing about a Potbellied Pig art dealer. A story about a dog debating morality and monogamy with himself in The Faithful Dog is also a standout. Overall, it was just a little brutal for my taste. I'm not a huge fan of books that describe deaths in detail, humourous or not and there is a lot of death in this book. Sure i cracked a grin at some of the more irony laden deaths, but still. It's dark. And believe me, there are lessons to be had; some of these animals are surprisingly relatable, such as the squirrel and chipmunk in the title story.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is a really fast read, it only took me a few hours. I would recommend checking it out. The humour's still around even though the subject matter has shifted. However, if I had never read another one of his books this would not be the one I started with. Me Talk Pretty One Day, now that's an excellent introduction to the brilliance that is David Sedaris. 


  1. Me Talk Pretty One day was my first Sedaris and I laughed so hard I cried a little, which never happens. I still giggle a little over the title chapter with his speech teacher bahahah.

    I am a bit faint of heart when it comes to animals, so I think I'll be skipping this one.

    1. I don't blame you for skipping this one at all. I read it because I figured Sedaris trumped my love of animals, but I'm not so sure anymore.

      Also, thank you so much for the warm welcome to the book blogging community. I really appreciate it!