David Sedaris is a funny, funny man. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is a funny, funny book. It’s basically just a collection of anecdotal short stories involving animal characters highlighting some rather crass human behaviors. Every once in a blue moon, an uplifting, lighthearted story sneaks in, but don’t expect that to be the norm.
Victoria asked me if I thought the novel was good upon completion and I immediately responded – ‘If you have my sense of humor’. This response put her on her guard as well it should. Sedaris’s humor rivals my own in appreciating the twisted and, admittedly, grotesque. These animals let it all hang out in brutal, disturbing, and hilarious ways. Crows eat the eyes of baby ewes. Fuzzy bunnies go on killing rampages in the name of safety. And they are all illustrated with NOTHING HELD BACK. Sometimes the pictures even squeaked me out.
But never fear, there’s something for the faint of heart as well and the book ends with a truly delightful story involving the friendship between a hippo, an owl, and a gerbil that symbolizes a strange sort of beauty among humans and a hopeful triumph of our troubled species.
Now back to the dark bits – I totally understand why people have a problem reading this book. They get so bogged down in the nasty pictures and gory plot lines, turning every page in utter abhorrence of Sedaris’s audacity. All the while, they are failing to grasp the underlining morality of each simple tale. The extremes in this book are merely portraying actualy animal behaviors that come naturally, no matter how upsetting. Crows will eat eyeballs – sorry if you don’t approve. But did you happen to notice how the mother sheep was a complete bitch, a condescending mother, and just an all around poor example of humanity? I was engrossed in the juxtaposition of instinctual animal survival against the crass, but more benign, human behaviors that are a CHOICE and believe Sedaris is a genius.
I recommend Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk and hope you give it a shot! You’ve been warned, so be prepared for some pretty intense imagery. I’m glad I won this book in our book club book swap and can’t wait to return it to Victoria to hear her undoubtedly argue with me about the necessity of the violence. Please feel free to do the same!