LITERATURE

The Best of Me

Little, Brown. Nov. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9780316257275. $30. LIT
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With ten books in his pocket, Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day) has established a reputation as one of the world’s funniest living writers. The best pieces in this compilation are gems of smart prose. For instance, “Christmas Means Giving,” offers a riff on gated community complacency: two families compete at Christmas to give away more than their neighbor. At first, it’s gifts to the needy—food, material objects—but it escalates to giving away one’s children and ends with donating one’s body parts. The piece is savagely funny but packs a moral punch. The best of Sedaris’s writings revolve around his notoriously dysfunctional family. Sedaris mines their quirks for humor, but the description of their odd doings, often hilarious, is unvaryingly human. Regardless of the his their idiosyncrasies, Sedaris loves his family and is thankful to be connected to them. He writes about them out of a well of humanness that makes them real and these pieces far from trivial. Combine that with a razor-sharp wit and a penchant for bons mots and you have a writer worth savoring.
VERDICT This collection of favorite and beloved writings by an author with legions of fans is warm, witty, and guaranteed to please longtime and new readers alike.

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