The art of reading—performing written works aloud—has, along with reading, period, become one of those rare talents now prized for its rarity in this online age. David Sedaris is one of those all-too-uncommon writers with an incredibly unique voice, both on the printed page and in the ability to convey his sharply biting satire vocally. He has performed in Utah before to sold-out audiences at large halls, but this is a chance to catch him in the more intimate setting of Sam Weller‘s Bookstore.
The occasion is his newest offering, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary—and lest you think it a children’s book, you’ll learn it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing as much as his earlier favorite Holidays on Ice, which gave us a narrative persona like a vindictive imp dressed in an elf costume. These short stories farm all the foibles of humans out to a menagerie of characters.
In “The Toad, The Turtle and The Duck,” three strangers in a complaint line compare notes on a level of bureaucracy that would stupefy George Orwell. The title character of “Hello Kitty” struggles to make it through court-ordered Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. “The Squirrel and the Chipmunk” find love, only to have it complicated by the prejudices of their respective families. Like most of Sedaris’ characters, they are just trying to chart a path toward happiness, but the course of human interaction takes them far afield of their intended travels.