David Sedaris, one of America’s great humourists, reads this sombre and hilarious collection of essays, stories and fables with unmatched comedic timing, unnerving truth and a real sense of worldly understanding.
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls can be pegged, very easily, as one of two things. Some will see it as Sedaris once again vomiting his inner monologue onto a batch of pages and reading it out in dull and monotonous tones. Others, including myself, will see it as Sedaris yanking the spotlight from a large landscape and focusing it on weird and wonderful aspects of humanity that both horrify and entertain.
Sedaris is a rare breed of storytellers that, despite indulging his narrative with old English and almost Shakespearean language, manages to make you live the story alongside him. It is his peculiar fascination with the smallest and most obscure of details that tie the entire image together whilst never failing to conjure a side splitting guffaw.
Sedaris tackles a lot of problems and issues in this six-hour audiobook. The overall arc does, inherently, focus on Sedaris’ childhood and hidden homosexuality but no one is safe. From pygmy skeleton sellers to UK border control, from the Chinese to Airlines, Sedaris does not pull any punches.
Perhaps the most battered individual, when all is said and done, is no doubt Sedaris’ father. It is with this ‘character’ that Sedaris manages to imbue the audiobook with both sombre sympathy and odd spurts of human comedy, once again blurring the line between tragedy and comedy – a staple of Sedaris’ style of storytelling and comedy.
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls is yet another triumph from the seasoned humourist. Sedaris admits that he is better at documenting life than he is at living it. But it is his ability to share his life with others, so intimately, which truly shows he understands human life.