David Sedaris’ Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim offers readers a rather interesting, and very funny, look into the life of the author. If it had not been for the disclaimer at the beginning of the book stating that these stories were all true, I would have simply called Sedaris an incredibly creative writer for being able to come up with these elaborate and detailed stories. The fact that these stories are, in fact, true arguably makes them even funnier, simply because they are grounded within reality, and make them more relatable to a larger number of readers. Some of this laughter can be clearly attributed to the superiority theory, as many times I laughed at these situations because they seemed completely embarrassing and I was just simply happy to not be in the authors position. One of the most notable times was in the chapter titled “Consider the Stars” where Sedaris’ father refused to leave a family’s house until they agree to pay for the root canal that Sedaris needed after being hit by a rock. The other father essentially states that their conversation is leading nowhere but his father refuses to leave without receiving some sort of settlement (50). This story is funny because his father’s stubbornness is endless to the point of being comical, but also because the very thought of being put in this sort of position by my own father is terrifying, but also a very real possibility. While I would be mortified to be in his position, I am entirely content to read about, and laugh at, Sedaris’ story which luckily he seems to be as well.
Many of Sedaris’ stories have this similar relatability about them, the story about his rather extended snow day that was chronicled in the chapter “Let It Snow” brings back my own childhood memories of my mother forcing my brother and I to go out and play in the snow, and while she did not lock us out of the house, I can only imagine after a few days stuck in the house with my brother and I, and absolutely nothing to do, her intentions were probably quite similar. What is arguably the best part of this story comes from when the older siblings convince their younger sister to lay down in the middle of the street so that their mother could not ignore them anymore (15-16). Every older sibling has stories of convincing their younger siblings to do something that they would never do themselves, but nevertheless want to see done. The second that I read through this story it made me think of a somewhat similar story from my own childhood in which I convinced my brother to do something that I did not want to, simply because I knew there was a chance I could get hurt, but my brother was not me, and if he got hurt I would not have to feel it so naturally this was the best choice. At the time I was around 7 years old and my brother was about 5, and I wanted to see if I could ride my bike down the steps of our front porch, the type of great idea only a child could think of, but I of course did not want to do it myself. Naturally I enlisted my brother and the first time he made it down without a problem, but of course I had him try it again just to make sure it was not a fluke, and naturally that time he fell and hurt himself. After my parents came rushing out of the house, and my brother sold me out, they asked me what I possibly could have been thinking to which I answered in what seemed like the only logical way at the time, saying “I don’t know what happened, it worked the first time he did it,” as if the fact that he had actually done it multiple times was somehow going to make the whole situation better for me. This story was not funny at all in the moment, my brother had gotten hurt and my parents were yelling at me, but with the distance of quite a few years, my entire family is able to look back upon this story and laugh. What Sedaris has done throughout his entire collection of stories is has created a work with which the reader can relate, which are very funny in their own right, but often allow the reader to reminisce and think of their own family stories, which only then add to the humor that is experienced while reading this work.