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Let's Talk Diabetes with Owls

David Sedaris proves as quick-witted as ever in this new collection of essays.

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Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls
By David Sedaris
Little, Brown
275 pp.

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David Sedaris returns with a new collection of essays, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. His topics, at this point, are familiar. There’s his family; his eminently tolerant boyfriend, Hugh; scenes from his feckless youth; and so on. If you’ve read Sedaris's past books, you know what’s coming.

Does that make it any less entertaining? Of course not. Sedaris remains as quick-witted as ever. Even in an essay in which he’s going after the low-hanging fruit of a basic language seminar, he’s still going to force you to interrupt whatever your friends and loved ones are doing to explain to them why you’re sitting there giggling.

If there is an issue with the language seminar essay (“Easy Tiger”), it may be in the sense that Sedaris is losing touch with the common man. This is a man who used to live in France and has since moved to the English countryside. The reason he’s taking the language seminars is that he’s traveling all over the world.

In one essay, he complains about being stuck in England for the summer because of a visa issue and it’s because he had his passport stolen in Hawaii. Neither of these things are going to inspire too much sympathy. He can still laugh at himself for having issues the rest of us should be so lucky to suffer through, but even so, he can occasionally seem a little out of touch.

The visa essay, “A Cold Case,” is the worst offender, but other essays, such as the one about traveling around near his place in the UK picking up litter (“Rubbish”), air similarly upper-class woes. He and Hugh decide to move to England, but Sedaris is shocked to learn that the English apparently have a bit of a litter problem. So he walks around picking up trash and feeling self-righteous about it. 

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