There’s no right way to keep a diary, but if there’s an entertaining way, David Sedaris seems to have mastered it.
If it’s navel-gazing you’re after, you’ve come to the wrong place; ditto treacly self-examination. Rather, his observations turn outward: a fight between two men on a bus, a fight between two men on the street, pedestrians being whacked over the head or gathering to watch as a man considers leaping to his death. There’s a dirty joke shared at a book signing, then a dirtier one told at a dinner party—lots of jokes here. Plenty of laughs.
These diaries remind you that you once really hated George W. Bush, and that not too long ago, Donald Trump was just a harmless laughingstock, at least on French TV. Time marches on, and Sedaris, at his desk or on planes, in hotel dining rooms and odd Japanese inns, records it. The entries here reflect an ever-changing background—new administrations, new restrictions on speech and conduct. What you can say at the start of the book, you can’t by the end. At its best, A Carnival of Snackery is a sort of sampler: the bitter and the sweet. Some entries are just what you wanted. Others you might want to spit discreetly into a napkin.
Thoughts and Themes: I’ve read a couple of things by David Sedaris in the past so I was pleased to be able to listen to an advanced listening copy of this book. Once I saw how many pages this book was I was even happier to be able to listen to it on audio.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did but I found that there were moments that I did find funny. As a warning though many of Sedaris’ jokes are offensive so sometimes I didn’t really care for them.
I loved how honest Sedaris’ is in these diary entries and how you can tell they weren’t really edited in terms of content. I love that things are a train of thought that you could see him having at the moment as these things occur. I liked that these feel like a found diary that we aren’t supposed to be reading but have decided to read anyway.
Something else that I enjoyed about this book was how when current events are brought up within the U.S. I remember being in those moments. The years that this book covers are ones that I can remember living through which was nice to remember. This book reminded me of my journal during the pandemic and how all over the place it was without trying to make meaning of anything going on.
Writing Style: This book is a collection of diary entries from Sedaris written in 2003-2020. A large portion of the book is read by Sedaris but there are also moments that Tracy Ullman is reading the book. I actually didn’t really mind the switch in who was reading the story and found that it didn’t really take away from the book once you kept in mind that this whole book is Sedaris’ diary entries.
Something about this book that did throw me off was how there wasn’t any transition when we were in a different country. I was quite confused at times as we suddenly we’re somewhere else without being told where we were. I also wish that there was more of a theme to some of these as some felt like filler rather than really adding to anything.
David Sedaris is a Grammy Award-nominated American humorist and radio contributor.
Sedaris came to prominence in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast his essay “SantaLand Diaries.” He published his first collection of essays and short stories, Barrel Fever, in 1994. Each of his four subsequent essay collections, Naked (1997), Holidays on Ice (1997), Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000), Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004), and When You Are Engulfed in Flames (2008) have become New York Times Best Sellers.
As of 2008, his books have collectively sold seven million copies. Much of Sedaris’ humor is autobiographical and self-deprecating, and it often concerns his family life, his middle class upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, Greek heritage, various jobs, education, drug use, homosexuality, and his life in France with his partner, Hugh Hamrick.