Book Review: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary - David Sedaris, Ian Falconer

The Basics

A series of human situations as lived by animals.

My Thoughts

I really don’t know who this was for. It’s written like a series of fables in a minimalist, almost young style, as if for children. The illustrations are whimsical with a dark twist. The stories are adult in nature, but they aren’t engaging or even guilty pleasures, just depressing. Depressing stories written as if for children but they’re clearly for adults. I guess Sedaris thought he was being cute and clever, but I had a very strong, negative reaction to it.

If I’m being honest, it wasn’t just the mix of disparate styles that bothered me. I know what juxtaposition is, and I do think it can work, but this felt like someone reaching for heights they weren’t capable of. These stories were dark and raw and focused on bleak moments and nasty characters. And there never seemed to be a point to it. I don’t know what Sedaris was trying to say, why he wanted to say it, or particularly why he wanted to say it with cute pictures of animals. Maybe it was supposed to be simply ironic or sarcastic, but if so, I find that lazy.

I’m all for bleak fiction, telling the stories that aren’t happy, but I was genuinely pissed at how he seemed to want it to be funny. It’s a shame this was my first Sedaris, because I’ve heard that he really does have a good sense of humor, but I’m not up for laughing at misfortune. I think that’s too easy and a more than a little cruel. It’s burned me to the point that I’m reluctant to read any of his other work.

Final Rating