Tag Archives: essays

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

51wAAzcD2uLAs you probably know if you’ve spent much time on the internet over the last five years, there’s a bizarrely drawn website about (mostly) childhood, dogs, and/or mental health called Hyperbole and a Half. What there’s a slight chance you don’t know is that the creator of that site has also released a book compiled partially from what’s already on the internet and partially from new essays.

She’s funny, often relatable, and the book reads quickly. I’m not sure you’ll get a deeper insight into the human condition, although if you’ve never dealt with depression, maybe you would learn something? But people often don’t, if they haven’t seen it themselves, so maybe not. By and large, it’s a humorous essay book, and they all cover the same thematic ground. The specific circumstances of this one? Yep, funny.

I do really wonder about her self-image, though. Her drawings are all on par with each other, rough but good enough that you can tell there’s some real talent going into them. The dogs start out looking like caricatures of bad dog drawings until you realize how well she captures different poses and moods. All of the people look like people, and so forth. Except, her self portrait is of a worm with a blonde sharkfin, wearing a tubesock. This is universally true, every time, even amidst other perfectly normally (but still roughly) drawn people. It’s obviously a stylistic choice, I just… like I said, I cannot help wondering what it means, on the inside. The answer to that question does not, as far as I can tell, reside within this book.

But it’s still worth reading!

Me Talk Pretty One Day

Is there any book quite as intriguing as the loaned book? I mean, don’t get me wrong: I’ve devoted the majority of my life to the premise that owning books is awesome, pretty much since I had two coins to rub together. But the thing about someone loaning you a book is that they liked it so much that they are compelled to share it, and that they see a commonality in you and really believe that you’ll love it every bit as much as they did, if not more. That’s deep, meaningful human contact right there. And spiritual, too. They are giving you of their own book, that you might read it and think of them. It’s, like, The Last Supper, but without as much bread, man!

…too far? Anyway, my point is, I approve of this practice between people.

As you may have worked out by now, this most recent book was a loaner. Me Talk Pretty One Day is a book of essays by David Sedaris, who apparently is a reasonably well known essay writer. (At least, he’s in the top 5 or 10 people I see mentioned on eharmony, behind Dan Brown and that guy that pissed off Oprah and five heavenly dead dudes.) I was very amused to discover that his sister Amy is in fact actress Amy Sedaris, though. Anyway, books of essays aren’t really my thing, generally speaking. And it would be difficult to make the claim that I have much of anything in common with a 40-something gay art guy who spent most of his life in New York and Paris.

And yet, he grew on me. There’s just something about his voice as he describes his misfit childhood and drugged out youth that gradually converted my tolerant smiles into quiet chuckles, and by the time he got to the second half of the book and his expatriation to France (for example, right now I’m having a chuckle at how he’d hate it being characterized that way), I was bursting out with sharp laughter once or more per story. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t indicate that the early stuff in the book isn’t as polished; like I said, he grew on me. I think if I went back and read it from the start, I’d find a lot of it more funny now. I’m not likely to any time very soon, but I expect I’ll try to borrow one of the others before too many books have passed. Because if loaning is a great way to say ‘I think I know you well enough to know this is for you’, reciprocal borrowing has got to be the best way to say, ‘good call, you were totally right’.

Still, though. It might be my bias, but I’m pretty sure the stories that included Amy were the funniest.