Sedaris returns to his deliriously twisted domain: hilarious childhood dramas infused with melancholy; the gulf of misunderstanding that exists between people of different nations or members of the same family; and the poignant divide between one's best hopes and most common deeds.
His newest anthology, the metaphorically titled Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, continues his sometimes dark, eternally funny, certainly lucrative and always relentless scouring of psyches, family histories and relationships ... His stories, while always plausibly crafted, accentuate the absurdities that seem to transpire around him with every breath and every step. But, beneath his sardonic wit, linguistically punchy one-liners and spirited eccentricities of individual characters, is an understated melancholy of fallibility, one that lingers under the occasional bluster and side-splitting laughs that make him a perennial bestseller and public radio fundraiser goldmine. This frail intricacy is easy to gloss over, especially when you're laughing so hard, but it's there, tucked away in even the funniest of stories.
It's that voice his fans find so addictive: nerdy on the surface, like a Cabbage Patch doll hitting puberty; underneath, cool and adamantine in its many frank appraisals ... As happiness and success are more in evidence, they find themselves balanced against a strange, new attitude of self-reckoning. The opening piece, 'Us and Them,' is written in that style of quasi-oracular coldness typically reserved for exposing the spiritual emptiness of the suburbs ... The voice must stay balanced: as if to compensate for his plush new life as a publishing-world rock star, Sedaris has perfected the quick, tidy, sermonical soul-search ... Should the balance between hapless Sedaris and rock star Sedaris get out of whack, that comfort proves harder and harder to retail as genuine angst.
Among the collection's most memorable essays is 'Rooster at the Hitchin' Post,' Sedaris' raucous rendition of his brother's wedding. Readers of Sedaris' previous works will remember Paul, the humorist's only male sibling, whose expletive-strewn tirades have earned him the nickname 'The Rooster' ... A housecleaning gig that takes a turn for the tawdry. A wealthy great-aunt with a mink coat and orthopedic shoes. It's all fodder for the delirious Sedaris, who dives headfirst into the pool of human weirdness, a wild, acid world where only the twisted dare tread.