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  • Naked
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Naked
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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
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on 10 July 2015
I have loved listening to David Sedaris on Radio 4 over the years, crying with shock and laughter at times. So when I saw this book on Amazon I had to buy it. Well... what I've discovered is, half of the greatness of his writing are the stories themselves, but the other half is HIM TELLING THEM. So I'm afraid I stopped reading this half way through and will have to buy it in audio book format so I can listen to David's once-heard-never-forgotten deadpan slightly effeminate, world-weary voice recount the stories himself.
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on 26 June 2013
I am a Sedaris fan all right. Having now read all the books, I am turning to his audio pod casts for entertainment. I rather fear however that if he doesn't get his quill pen out and start scratching, I will next have to hunt him down and demand more books.

Easy to read and amusing, he captures moments that resonate with the lives of most people.

Go on. Buy the book. You know you want to.
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on 31 March 2016
A great book and very funny in places. Once I got past the horrible hype on the cover about this being wittier than Wilde and Allen and took the book for what it is, I really got into it. The front cover quote is very unhelpful.
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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.
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on 16 June 2015
I've loved David Sedaris' series on BBC Radio 4 and after hearing him read live, a couple of weeks ago, and discovering the slightly (majorly) darker side to his humour, I decided I ought to read some of his work. This had me in stitches, and being that annoying person who laughs out loud at the joke nobody else hears.
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on 22 October 2017
Hilarious. Such a big Sedaris fan. I just love his books. A very funny man.
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on 23 March 2015
It's all here: the wit, the wordplay, the woes. But in a less genteel form than his more famous Me Talk Pretty One Day. The author's many quirks come to sometimes frightening life, and his incredible ability to sketch a scene in a few brilliantly chosen phrases had me wincing on occasion. So don't read if you're easily offended by swearing, non-missionary-position sex, or almost violence.

But do read if you like to laugh out loud, and are delighted by the English language. A must for Sedaris fans, as well as those interested in the human condition.
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on 28 October 2014
I heard the author, for the first time, speaking on radio 4 last month. The book was very good. I woke my husband up one night as I was laughing too loud. I have recommended the book to my daughter for her Kindle.
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on 24 July 2017
4 stars is fair, not his best book but certainly worth a read
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