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The brave and brutal truth
March 4, 2012 - Meg Alexander
I was at a used bookstore in Sioux Falls recently, and I picked up copies of "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and "When You Are Engulfed in Flames," by David Sedaris. For the odd ducks out there who haven't encountered Sedaris, he is ... something else altogether. I've read both these books already, and still my giggling was loud enough to wake my husband from a dead sleep — no small accomplishment, let me tell you.
Sedaris isn't for everyone. His stories are typically of a self-deprecating nature, going into excruciatingly funny detail about the odds and ends of his life, and tying it all together in a way that's humorous, touching and brave.
Again, Sedaris is not for everybody, but I happen to find him inspiring. There's something wonderful about being brutally honest in your storytelling — albeit with a few embellished details, in Sedaris' case. Human beings, as a whole, are hilarious creatures, always contradicting ourselves and trying to cover up anything that doesn't fit what we think is society's norm. It takes a brave person with a thick skin and an understanding family to point these things out, regardless of the consequences.
As for me, wish as I might, that kind of brave, brutal honesty is just not in my genes. I'm an editor by nature. I edit what I say before I say it, thinking about whether the words I'm about to voice will be ones I'll want to stand by in the future, wondering how they'll be perceived coming out of my mouth. Put a thing in writing, and the process becomes all the more complicated. That's why even though I might have my own funny stories to share, I'll limit the personal stuff to the people I know and trust, and keep enjoying the likes of Sedaris.
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