Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim – David Sedaris


So, this is my second David Sedaris novel I’ve read (the first being Me Talk Pretty One Day). Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is an autobiography that details happenings in the life of Sedaris and his family.

I love to read comedy biographies (as you could probably tell from reading some of my last few reviews). Sedaris covers just about everything in his books, and nothing is off limits. He includes even the most embarrassing situations for his family, for his boyfriend, and himself. Some of his stories can miss the mark, others are a hit for me.

The beginning chapters of this book were those that didn’t exactly hit the mark for me as much as the final few did, but were still good. The first and second chapter reminded me of me and my family very much. Sedaris recalling his candy greed and the image he provided of him stuffing candy into his soon to be sick stomach in chapter 1 was very comical. I, too, react adversely to candy, ice cream, and sugar. Childhood does not allow you to think clearly; at that age, one only knows that you are a child and should love the chocolate treats you are given. (BTW, who did these Tomkeys think they were!! What jerks). Then, in chapter 2, I had major flashbacks to when my parents would lock my sister and myself out for the day so they had time to recoup. What a time to have been alive! Back when people wouldn’t report your parents to CPS if you were outside alone.

The chapters after that were over all humorous, but not as relate-able to me as the others. In Ship Shape, Sedaris talks of his family’s vacations to sea-side homes, a luxury that my family was not able to do in my youth. In Full House, the major idea covered was a normal household vs their household. I had the normal, with a usual bed time and I fully enjoyed sleepovers, whereas Sedaris was the opposite (the strip poker was pretty funny, though).

The chapters Consider the Stars and Monie Changes Everything definitely portrayed Sedaris less favorably. Although it is usual for young kids to hang on to popularity structure, the Thad story just made him seem naive. It made me a bit sad for young Sedaris, unable to be content where he was in life. That theme continued into his teens when he was panhandling in The Change in Me with Dan, who clearly wasn’t his real friend. Monie Changes Everything made him and his family seem greedy, to which I thought was just unbecoming.

All the chapters focusing on his family were alarming, and down-out-right grounds for them to never speak with him again. When he writes of his father throwing him out for being gay (unbeknownst to David Sedaris at the time) in Hejira, my heart broke for him and his mother. He is embarrassingly honest about his (what I would call) trashy/crass brother (Paul), sister (Tiffany) and father in Rooster at the Hitchin’ Post, Put a Lid on It, and Slumus Lordicus, respectively. Other chapters about the family were not as harsh, in my opinion, as those 3 were. In fact, I even felt that Sedaris tried to redeem Paul’s image in Baby Einstein, but it didn’t pan out right for me to change my view of him.

He doesn’t only dish on his family, he talks a lot about himself and includes snippets of his life with his boyfriend, Hugh. Sedaris continues to come across as naive into adulthood the chapter The Girl Next Door when he continues to allow a crazy person access to his life. Thank goodness his mom got him out in time! In Possession he details what it’s like to try to move with his boyfriend when he truly doesn’t want any house but the Anne Frank Annex. In Chicken in the Henhouse, Sedaris talks about the mental steps that he sadly experiences everyday in the quest to not be deemed a deviant pedophile. In the same chapter he talks about his crippling sweating problem- WHICH IS, AGAIN, ENTIRELY TOO RELATE-ABLE.  Also, Who’s the Chef details the small bickering matches every couple has (the tombstone comment was pretty funny).

By far, my favorite chapter was Blood Work and Nuit of the Living Dead. I was cracking up the entire chapter for Blood Work! As someone that struggles in awkward situations, I could understand the reasons Sedaris gave as to why he stuck around the whole time. I’ve cleaned houses before and (thankfully) I’ve never ran into such a problem. Seriously, this book was worth reading, to me, just for the hilarious chapter! Also, call me morbid, but him talking about that mouse trap in Nuit of the Living Dead made me laugh out loud. Don’t get me started on him yelling “Hyaa!” to the darkness! Ha. Seriously though, have we all not had a stranger in our home and immediately felt self-conscious about what we had left out? The only difference is, most people don’t have so much morbid memorabilia laying about.

All in all, I would suggest this book to my friends that have a little darker humor interest. The entire book was comical, but I could not see my grandmother enjoying the chapter Blood Work. Have you read Sedaris before? What were your thoughts or favorite novels penned by him?


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