Sunday, April 3, 2011

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, by David Sedaris.

From the short story "The Grieving Owl":

My next stop was the city zoo. I've heard there are some that house the animals in actual landscapes, fields and jungles and the like. Ours, I discovered, is more old-fashioned, geared towards the viewer rather than the viewed.
I don't know how much territory a hippo might require in the wild ... There's a pool for her to submerge herself in, and the ground around it is paved in cement. A sign in front of her display reads, LOIS, but that, she explained, was just her slave name. "I don't go by anything, not now, not ever," she told me. "It's just not the hippo way."

What struck me right off was her warmth and accessibility. You expect this with miniature goats, but hippos, I'd heard, were notoriously grumpy.

When I heard that David Sedaris had a new book out, I was very excited, as I LOVE most of his books, which up until now were memoirs. With this short story collection, he gives human characteristics to animals, but while still incorporating his trademark humor. I liked the collection, but I have to say that I like his memoirs more, and I hope that for his next novel he goes back to that genre.

There are sixteen short stories contained in this collection, and I definitely had a few favorites, although all of them are funny. "The Grieving Owl" (see excerpt above) was interesting, as was the first story, "The Cat and the Baboon," among others.

3.5 stars out of 5.


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