October 5th, 2014

Review: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
by David Sedaris

In a collection of short stories reminiscent of Aesop's Fables, the lives of animals are revealed to be strikingly familiar. A squirrel and chipmunk go on a date, only to be separated by the prejudices of their families. A dog recognizes the cultural chasm between himself and his wife, but remains faithful to her even after she is caught cheating. A bear loses her mother and milks the tragic situation for all that it's worth. These anthropomorphous animals are just as dysfunctional as any guest on daytime TV.

There are a couple of strong stories in the collection. “The Grieving Owl” was a touching story about a predator who allows his prey to escape if they can tell him something new. When one of his victims tells him that there is a species of leech that live only in the anus of a hippopotamus, the owl immediately sets off to see if this is true. He finds a hippo at the zoo who is more than willing to let him investigate, and they become fast friends. It's a weird story that has some very dark, funny moments – Sedaris at his best. I also enjoyed “The Motherless Bear” because I've known many women just like the title character, who goes about repeating her story of suffering because of the attention she gains, but as time passes she becomes unbearable in her self-imposed state of martyrdom.

Other stories aren't as good. I actually didn't care for “The Squirrel and the Chipmunk”, the story for which the entire collection is named. The two characters just seem so silly, the plot too predictable and pedestrian? The humor just didn't work, perhaps. “The Cow and the Turkey”, a short story in which the barnyard animals hold a Christmas party with a Secret Santa gift exchange, and the cow insists on getting the turkey's gift because she knows he is destined to be served for Christmas dinner, so she won't have to give him anything. I guess the big lesson is that if animals take on human practices, it simply reveals just how selfish and unlikeable people really are.

There's a certain mean streak that runs through Sedaris' writing, and while it's funny when directed at his own daily life, I find it grows to the point of offensive when he takes to writing fiction. I know that my brother really enjoyed this collection of stories, though, so it entirely depends on what tickles your funny bone.

3 out of 5 stars

To read more about Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Codename Sailor V, Vol. 2 by Naoko Takeuchi
2011: Taking a break...
2010: Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black & Justine Larbalesteir
2009: Winter's Child by Cameron Dokey
2008: News: Librarything.com is hiring!