‘Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls’ shocks, entertains, delights


The Appalachian Online

Jordan Parkhurst

The witty and widely acclaimed David Sedaris does not miss a beat with his new book, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.” The novel is as insightful and funny as the man himself.

Different from his previous works, this new collection of essays relies heavily on his reputation of success to draw readers in. The book begins with, of all things, an essay about his Parisian dentist.

The book begins with a sense of bewilderment – there is no mild-mannered wading into the subject matter. We immediately learn of Sedaris’ masochistic glee regarding dental cleanings.  

The novel includes sharp (and frighteningly accurate) satire about the American Bible Belt, more than a few bitter memories about his father, imagined scenarios where he forgets the birth of his children, and anything else that seemed to pop into his mind.

Nothing is too candid for Sedaris. His writing provides a warm feeling of friendship for the reader and the tone of his essays are conversational. Reading his thoughts and observations, for most of us, can be second only to knowing him personally.

Childhood memories from his longtime home of Raleigh are mentioned as frequently as his observations on learning Japanese, illegally adopting a sea turtle or discussing colonoscopies with his partner, Hugh.

None of these subjects are glossed over for the easily shocked reader. Be warned but not wary – the ending payoff for readers is huge.

The hodgepodge format of information in the novel consistently rewards readers who enjoy Sedaris’ eclectic sense of storytelling. Several stories will pull at your heartstrings, especially memoirs of a young Sedaris starting to understand and initially fight against his sexuality. The confusion he felt as a child and teenager will attract readers who can relate to his experiences.

Perhaps the most memorable moment occurs at the start of a new story about the glory of Jesus, where Sedaris damns everyone from Democrats to vegans, and a guy who denied his home improvement loan.

The beauty in the collection lies in the deliberate lack of continuity between the stories, which will hit the reader in that same masochistic way Sedaris was hoping for.

4/5 stars.

Story by: Jordan Parkhurst, Intern A&E Reporter