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Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

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David Sedaris's life is so normal, yet so abnormal. In this collection of essays, Sedaris plays in the snow with his sisters, goes to the beach with his family, visits his rich aunt in Cleveland, cleans apartments in New York and drowns a mouse in France. Beneath the normal routines of his life, though, lies a quirky alternate universe which he brings out marvelously.

At the root of his stories is the Sedaris family. They see themselves as an ordinary family from North Carolina, but they are far from ordinary. They all have their quirks, they nitpick at each other and they deal with David's homosexuality. They have all gone their separate ways, but they remain a family - just don't ask them for a favor. When David comes around they may invite him into their homes, but they do so with a wary eye that he may be collecting material for a new story. They aren't far off. The bonds of secrecy that exist between family members are, for the most part, broken. Thankfully for us, nothing is off-limits to David.

At times, the stories seem to be cruel depictions of the Sedaris family. The mother is the no-nonsense matriarch with a cup of coffee in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. The father is hard-as-nails and would rather shake his children's hands than hug them. The sisters are talented but throw their skills away for the mundane. The younger brother, Paul, is crude and obnoxious. But, David writes about them lovingly and, by the last story, he shows that beneath their faults and oddities there is beautiful individuality.

"Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" is endearing and hilarious in all its obvious and subtle ways. The Sedaris family is different from mine and yours, but you still feel a connection to them. Sedaris' ability to tell a story makes this book all the more fun to read.