... has fewer of these beautifully crafted jewel boxes than Calypso did. However, in addition to being consistently funny, it contains some festive Sedaris occasions for all those who celebrate ... We get a seeming resolution to Sedaris and his father’s lifelong grudge match when Lou tells David, 'You won.' We get vivid moments featuring Lou’s will and Tiffany’s accusations of sexual abuse; Sedaris confesses to offering to pay for a 24-year-old store clerk to have his teeth fixed, and to long ago initiating a bizarre intergenerational family moment while wearing underpants that he’d cut the back out of. We also get the only truly offensive thing, to my knowledge, that Sedaris has ever written ... Some of the pieces in Happy-Go-Lucky seem transitional, as if Sedaris, having already secured his place as a chronicler of dysfunctional families and oddball enthusiasms, is casting his net wider by taking on societal issues. This is a promising direction, but I missed Sedaris’s personal connection to the topics of guns and school shootings in an essay about those topics. Similarly, his essentially gothic bent, when applied to an ongoing crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic, can yield statements that whiff faintly of cabbage ... But when you’re dealing with a talent as outsize as Sedaris’s, even the missteps are fairly negligible ... the lasting impression of “Happy-Go-Lucky” is similar to that of Sedaris’s other books: It’s a neat trick that one writer’s preoccupation with the odd and the inappropriate can have such widespread appeal. As Sedaris once replied to a store employee who’d asked him if he was looking for anything special when gift shopping, 'Grotesque is a plus.'
Readers can decide how they feel about his admission that, at the height of the pandemic, he and Hugh, his partner of more than 30 years, had up to four dinner parties a week, or his reference to the pandemic as 'a golden era for tattletales' who chastised others for wearing their masks improperly ... But he softens the crankiness with that familiar Sedaris charm ... In its often-gloomy way, zingers like that one in Happy-Go-Lucky offer a useful template for anyone dealing with the blues: It's not easy, but, if possible, find humor in even the grimmest of situations. That'll cheer you up.
Memory after memory is evoked, like a droll Proust, but Sedaris is also looking to the future ... He excels when addressing the incomprehensible ... Gloriously politically incorrect at times, he embraces ambiguity. It is a leavening sensibility that seems disturbingly retro in these divided times, and his brilliance lies in his ability to disrupt and comfort. We are lucky to have him.
The happy-go-unlucky Sedaris is forever being frustrated, humiliated or downright annihilated, and the mishaps he chronicles probably explain why readers feel so fondly protective towards him ... His wickedly hilarious riffs are pyrotechnics in words, although when the aerial explosions fade he can’t help noticing that nothing has changed on the mucky ground below ... If satire can’t goad us into reforming, Sedaris can at least clean up the mess we so squalidly strew behind us.
... more somber than Sedaris' usual fare, but there are some fresh, funny bits wedged between the weighty boulders ... Coming from a writer who can find twisted humor even in a 'massively difficult' father, this dark view is sobering.
Sedaris simultaneously asserts himself as the undisputed past master of this tone and captures its fundamental weakness, applying the style he has developed for the last 30 years to a subject matter for which it is almost eerily unsuited ... it has the ring of truth, that funny quality of how things really are. The ability to evoke this quality has always been Sedaris’s great strength, and it shines through in this collection, mostly in the form of non sequiturs attributed to his sisters. They’re the kind of things your friends and family might say, if they were funnier, and in this way they are better than jokes, because they are not laugh traps the author has built to spring upon you so much as little cracks in the orderly surface of the world, across which he reaches for your hand — in a word: relatable ... It is ironic, then, that relatability also turns out to be the absolute bête fucking noire of this collection, cropping up again and again to recast Sedaris not as the antsy everyman we grew up with but rather as some kind of moneyed Aspergers case ... This life of wealth and fame provides a fundamentally different backdrop for the likable fuck-up persona Sedaris developed in Santaland and subsequent essays ... From a writer who meets fans everywhere he goes and has to think for a second to remember how many homes he owns, self-deprecation rings false ... Sedaris can’t seem to do it. Either he doesn’t have enough tools in the box or he just refuses to look too closely at any of these understandably difficult subjects, so instead he writes about them in the same tone he used to write about department-store Santas and being bad at French, with disastrously jarring results ... In the space of about a page, we go from pure Sex and the City banter to a kind of half joke about possible childhood abuse to a zero-humor instance of ongoing dysfunction in their adult relationship, with no cues about how seriously we’re supposed to take any of it ... If Sedaris were more emotionally forthcoming or just willing to linger for a few sentences on a single thought, the answer might be 'very seriously while laughing,' a mode in which some of the best humor can operate. But his unrelenting emphasis on fast pace and light tone — that is to say, glibness — leaves him with too little time to explore the complicated and clearly ambivalent ways he feels about his father, about death, about social disintegration, and about all the other heavy topics whose weight threatens to capsize the second half of this collection. Sedaris is like the social director running around the deck of a listing cruise ship, frantically playing for laughs and doing jazz hands while the reader wonders whether he doesn’t know the ship is sinking or just refuses to acknowledge what’s going on ... he seems unequipped to deal with anything that heavy, as a prose stylist and maybe as a person.
Sedaris doesn’t always come across well in this book: he sounds a bit glib on racial politics, and downright cranky when lamenting the coddled entitlement of the younger generation. He can be petty, too, and bitter, though it is partly because of these flaws that people relate to him. A vague sense of existential cluelessness has always been part of his shtick, embodied in his distinctive vocal delivery – a slightly whiny deadpan that imbues his monologues with bathos. That aural component is, in truth, essential to the Sedaris charm. On the page he’s a somewhat diminished presence: engaging but rarely captivating.
Almost everyone has a dysfunctional family, but few expose their relatives’ funny, embarrassing and even disturbing quirks quite like writer and humorist David Sedaris ... A new collection of poignant, honest and funny essays ... Writing about his teen years, Sedaris is simultaneously amusing and brutal while unflinchingly exposing the ironies of his family and life in general.
... offers deft, sharp commentary on masculinity. One of the collection’s delights is a commencement address delivered at Oberlin College that skates along on the surface with funny throwaway lines and ridiculousness while offering slyly sensible life advice underneath ... These essays offer plenty of laughs, but the tone is often dark as Sedaris contemplates his dad’s failings, and his own ... I teared up at Sedaris’ evocation of both the pain of such abuse and the unexpected moment of connection between the two men at the end of the elder Sedaris’ life ... an entertaining collection, both cringey and poignant as it celebrates love, family and even aging in an inimitably Sedaris way.
Though his tone is more poignant than pointed, the essential Sedaris humor reassuringly endures. Amid the barbed quips, there is genuine sorrow, an empathy born of arduous experience and persistent aspiration.
Sedaris ponders many deep themes here: politics, racial inequality, and even natural disasters, but always adds his irreverent take on life’s most solemn moments ... Sedaris’s many fans will be reassured that he has not lost his humor or his understated pathos ... This is Sedaris at his best, provocative and hysterical. Readers will feel like laughing even when it may feel inappropriate, much like the Sedaris family at their father’s actual deathbed.
Unrest, plague, and death give rise to mordant comedy in this intimate collection from Sedaris ... Much of the book has a dark edge, as it recounts the decline and death of his 98-year-old father ... As always, Sedaris has a knack for finding where the blithe and innocent intersect with the tawdry and lurid ... Sedaris’s tragicomedy is gloomier than usual, but it’s as rich and rewarding as ever.
Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval ... Sedaris generally carries himself...lightly ... Impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief ... A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.