Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
Tag: Audiobooks
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Year: 2022
ISBN: 9780316392457

David Sedaris’ latest book feels like a return to a more familiar humor, especially after Calypso, which was a darker and more poignant reflection on his family (and dealt with the suicide of his sister, Tiffany). As Sedaris ages, his family faces more such losses, and in Happy-Go-Lucky, it’s his father who passes away.

Longtime readers will know of Sedaris’ complicated relationship with his father, and he’s always dealt with it through humor. His father’s death is no exception. The essay collection doesn’t solely focus on his father–he covers the pandemic, absurd outings with family, and more. I laughed aloud more than once, but I also detected a new hint of meanness here that I never saw in his work before. Like everyone, Sedaris has been through a lot in recent years, which could account for those moments. For me, they didn’t overtake his superior storytelling and narration; Sedaris’s audiobooks were the first that I truly enjoyed, and I’m always glad for the chance to listen again.

About the Book

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Publisher’s Description

Back when restaurant menus were still printed on paper, and wearing a mask–or not–was a decision made mostly on Halloween, David Sedaris spent his time doing normal things. As Happy-Go-Lucky opens, he is learning to shoot guns with his sister, visiting muddy flea markets in Serbia, buying gummy worms to feed to ants, and telling his nonagenarian father wheelchair jokes.

But then the pandemic hits, and like so many others, he’s stuck in lockdown, unable to tour and read for audiences, the part of his work he loves most. To cope, he walks for miles through a nearly deserted city, smelling only his own breath. He vacuums his apartment twice a day, fails to hoard anything, and contemplates how sex workers and acupuncturists might be getting by during quarantine.

As the world gradually settles into a new reality, Sedaris too finds himself changed. His offer to fix a stranger’s teeth rebuffed, he straightens his own, and ventures into the world with new confidence. Newly orphaned, he considers what it means, in his seventh decade, no longer to be someone’s son. And back on the road, he discovers a battle-scarred America: people weary, storefronts empty or festooned with Help Wanted signs, walls painted with graffiti reflecting the contradictory messages of our time: Eat the Rich. Trump 2024. Black Lives Matter.

In Happy-Go-Lucky, David Sedaris once again captures what is most unexpected, hilarious, and poignant about these recent upheavals, personal and public, and expresses in precise language both the misanthropy and desire for connection that drive us all. If we must live in interesting times, there is no one better to chronicle them than the incomparable David Sedaris.

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