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Book Review: Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris

I think I’ve found my new favourite writer. I loved reading Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls and can’t wait to get my hands on more of his books – Naked is next on my list.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls is a collection of essays that touch on family life, racism, travel, politics and even the English bureaucracy. Sedaris has a keen eye for the absurdities of everyday life and the essays are frequently hilarious.

His family, and his quirky father in particular, are focusses of Sedaris’s essays. In one, he writes of a case of mistaken identity when his dad shirtfronts a schoolboy, before realising his mistake and sheepishly offering him a bowl of stale ice cream, which he insists on watching him finish. In another, he remembers with a degree of shame a time when he tried to deflect his father’s attention from his opponent in a school swimming race by criticizing his sister’s weight.

One of my favourites stories in this collection was the one about traveling to Australia, in which he visits Daylesford, not far from where I live. It’s always nice to hear a visitor’s impression of a familiar place and Sedaris doesn’t disappoint. He writes about his encounter with a kookaburra with surprisingly violent eating habits.

Sedaris observes of the kookaburra:

“When seen full on, the feathers atop his head looked like brush-cut hair, and that gave him a brutish, almost conservative look. If owls were the professors of the avian kingdom, then kookaburras, I thought, might well be the gym teachers.”

Not a word is out of place, and each of Sedaris’ observations is stinging in its accuracy and insight. In a Meet the Author Apple podcast, he said that he carefully re-reads his work many times until he feels it is right, and his attention to detail shows. I don’t usually choose to read nonfiction or short stories, but in this case I’m so very glad I did.

Readability score: 10/10

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