Only David Sedaris can take a mundane activity and turn it inside out so intensely and simply that you can't stop laughing. This collection includes his morbid Greek grandmother who turns the family life upside down until they force her into not one, but two nursing homes where she traumatizes all around her. As a youngster, Sedaris finds an old pornographic novel with horrible typos that speaks of relentless incest. Passing it down to his sisters, they all develop a fear of their "sexual prowling" parents. Senior Sedaris tricks the kids into going golfing only to have sister Lisa have her first period at the fourteenth hole in front of all the Golfing big shots. Does the author stop hitch-hiking after several attempts on his life? No. This he finds exciting, made all the better when he can produce marijuana to calm any fag-hating drivers. The stories are alarmingly fresh and Sedaris' viewpoint is so violently skewed, you wonder how he lives his life at all. This is a hilarious outlook on life.
on 8 January 2003
David Sedaris writes mostly about his family (including himself), but instead of relying on the tired old wouldyoubelieveit style to get their personalities across, he makes obsessiveness, predictability and contemptuous familiarity seem normal and inevitable. Which they probably are. The writing is very 'straight' for such a hilarious book, and it's appallingly and brilliantly clear - you're not spared just exactly how everything felt, even though he doesn't exactly tell you.
on 15 August 2010
It took me two attempts to read this book. The first time, I read a few of the stories and then put the book to one side. Given that I was already aware of Sedaris's reputation as a great comic writer, having to set the book aside was both disappointing and frustrating. I couldn't quite put my finger on what exactly I didn't like about it. Over the next few months the book kept 'nodding' at me from the 'to be read' pile until I eventually decided to start reading again from the start to see if I could get into the book properly. After the first few stories it became clear to me why I had disliked the book the first time around. There was a certain 'manufactured' quality to some of the stories as if he had deliberately set out to make something funny even if, in itself, it was not intrinsically funny. There was an exaggerated quality to man of the stories which I found irritating. After a while I got used to the style and some of the stories I had disliked at the first sitting started to grow on me.
There are seventeen stories in this collection -some of which are quite good and often entertaining. But at no stage was I in convulsions laughing at the humour. In common with a few of the other reviewers I too was dismayed to read of people laughing out loud at some of the stories. The funniest ones, to me, were 'Get Your Ya-Ya's Out' and 'Dinah The Christmas Whore'. These were very engaging and well-written. However, the title story 'Naked' was far too long and ended up being tedious.
For me, Sedaris displayed much more impressive skill when he dealt with more serious subject-matter. He seemed to be on much firmer ground and more compelling. The story 'Ashes' about his mother's impending death from cancer manages effortlessly to be both funny and very poignant. I finished it wanting to read more stories in this style rather than the forced style of a lot of the other stories.
on 7 November 2007
Sedaris is a great and funny writer. Humour is hard to do standing up, but on the written page it can fall flat and be fatal. Sedaris's book ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY is his best work and NAKED takes a good solid second place to that. I'd give BARREL FEVER third. This said, you should still read NAKED as it has got some great material in it. "A Plague of tics" is by far the best thing in the book and you'll wet yourself in public reading this if you're not careful. Would also recommend the funny book KATZENJAMMER by McCrae if you want something Sedaris like but with a great many twists and turns.
on 20 August 2008
Actually, I might have overshot there - Bill Bryson has always held that office in my life, but seeing as how I'm in waiting for something new from the Great One, David Sedaris can occupy the throne for a bit. I don't know why more in the UK have failed to find him - I can't believe anyone who's read his essays hasn't rushed up to all their friends shrieking 'you've SO got to read this!'. I'm already a veteran of the brilliant 'Dress your family in Cordueroy' - hang on - I have to spell this right - '...corduroy and denim', and 'Me talk pretty one day', and 'Naked' doesn't disappoint. No point decribing what it's all about - you need to read him to appreciate him. All you need to know is that he's a gay greek-american of middle years who writes just brilliantly. If you find no point at which you can't help but laugh out loud then you simply do not have a sense of humour. There's depth here, too - his account of his mother's cancer is deeply affecting. I wish we had him here on radio because I just know he will talk like he writes. Bill, you are on borrowed time...
on 9 May 2008
I've recently come across three fantastic funny books. The first was called BARRING SOME UNFORESEEN ACCIDENT and it just blew me away. Second was THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES by Ceclia Ahern, and finally, last but not least NAKED by Sedaris.
If you like to laugh, you'll enjoy these books, but I have to say that NAKED was the best yet. Now, I've not read a lot of Sedaris, but he's one funny guy. The book is a hilarious collection of memoirs, essays, the usual hodge-podge that Sedaris somehow manaages to make work. Possibly the best story is A PLAGUE OF TICS which involves his literaly "nakedness" in front of a bunch of loonies. Sedaris is a master storyteller of immense proportions and his humour translates easily from America to England. Kudos to the master.
on 22 February 2006
This is a very funny book, so funny that I shed tears of fun throughout the time that I read it. The title "Naked" is itself enticing, and reading the book offers no regrets for making the choice.
Also recommended: The usurper and other stories, House of the Dead, White Fang,Union Moujik. Hilarious and witty they are, these stories are also pager turners.
on 7 February 2012
Naked, published in 1997 is the second book by David Sedaris I have read having read Me Talk Pretty One Day, a later work, some years ago. All of Sedaris' work comprises of anecdotal, autobiographical short stories. A comic writer many of his stories are genuinely hilarious, but comedy is a personal taste thing and I found the stories overall in this one less amusing than I did the previous book I'd read, which isn't to say that was the case with every story.
In this book Sedaris tackles such diverse topics as his time on a nudist colony, his Greek grandmother, his volunteerism in a psychiatric hospital, his sister Lisa's friendship with a prostitute, a pornographic novel discovered in their home, Lisa's first period and her marriage, and his childhood issues with his homosexuality and OCD among others.
I felt when reading 'Me Talk Pretty One Day' that Sedaris' childhood made anyone's seem dull and tame, and 'Naked' expands on this, the man's life is full of incident and wild stories to tell at dinner parties, whilst what happens to David the majority of the time is unfortunate and often cringeworthy, you feel slightly envious that he had all these experiences. It beats the heck out of childhood Saturdays spent traipsing around garden centres.
The funniest stories this time round for me were 'The Drama Bug' a story in which Sedaris becomes taken with Shakespeare and begins to address his family in Shakespearean Language, which genuinely made me laugh aloud, The Women's Open : the story of Lisa's first period which distinguishes itself for Lisa's reaction to her father in the car. Cyclops, the story of the way in which parents project the worst case scenario outcome onto everything you do; I also liked True Detective an episode in which David tries to establish who is wiping their bum on the bathroom towels among other crimes and finally my favourite The Incomplete Quad chronicling Sedaris' friendship with a disabled student at university, and their various attempts at using her disability for financial gain, getting away with shoplifting and hitchhiking, really funny.
Some of the stories though are actually quite sad, the fact that nobody really liked his grandmother Ya-Ya, and the story of his mothers diagnosis with terminal cancer. Funny or sad, these are stories of a large, chaotic family and the sort of emotions and relationships that occur within a family dynamic, and as such should be very identifiable with a lot of readers. I think like me, other readers will like certain stories better than others and perhaps will like ones that I wasn't too keen on, and dislike ones that I enjoyed.
I struggled with maybe three stories in the book, C.O.G, Naked, and Something For Everyone which made the last section of the book a bit of a "go slow" as these were longer stories which I didn't really find interesting or funny. Like most short story collections you take to some stories and not to others which then makes the book rather a patchy experience. I don't know if I'll read a third collection of his stories, I think it's important that there was a long gap between my reading this book and Me Talk Pretty One Day because I think if you read all his stuff on top of one another it would become a bit samey and irritating.
I do wonder how his family, his brothers and sisters who are still living feel about having themselves and their childhood exposed in such a way, I read that an adaptation of Me Talk Pretty One Day was blocked after Amy Sedaris, herself a writer, voiced concerns to David about how their family would be portrayed.
Overall, I really enjoyed some of it and some of it bored me so maybe we'll say a 6.5/10
on 9 April 2000
The last time I laughed this hard was ten years ago with Martin Amis' "London Fields". I sincerely hope that this book is largely autobiographical! I like to think that the author really experiences most (NOT all!) of this stuff. It is a sick, and sadly wonderfully accurate vision of the characters that one finds in the least likely places in America. Most of all on a Greyhound bus (he even takes a Greyhound bus at one point in the book!). There is enough cringe-worthy stuff to make me a little reluctant to buy it for my mother; although I am sure she'd cry at 90% of it too. Now I am dying for his next book to come out. I think I will have to pre-order an oxygen tank to get me through it though.
In this collection of autobiographical short stories David Sedaris gives us a glimpse into his life as a boy and a young man starting out in the world of work. They are not in any chronological order, and can jump back and forth in time, but one thing they have in common is that they are all very funny, some hilarious. Yet they are not flippant nor slight in content, and underlying the humour one cannot miss the occasional anguish of a young man aware of his own shortcomings; for Sedaris writes self-effacingly and with candour, and his honesty only warms us to him.
Naked is a very enjoyable read, and at times very moving as hidden behind the humour, Sedairs opens himself up just as the title suggests.