Discussion while he signed my book:
<<David: Catalina…Is that you?
I: Yes, it is!
D: Are you here by yourself?
I: (I barely heard what he asked, so I felt the need to repeat it to myself, and my brain translated it with ‘are you here alone?’ And even if it’s used to suggest companionship, the word alone immediately makes one think about solitude. That in turn reminded me of a Hermann Hesse quote from Steppenwolf: “As a body everyone is single, as a soul never”. And that’s exactly how I feel, never alone when I am just with myself. But I’ve kept my musings to myself)
I: Yes, I am.
D: Where are you from, Catalina?
I: I am originally from Romania.
D: “Doamna(Miss), Domnisoara(Mrs), Sa ma cac in gura ma-tii,” he said mischievously.
And I was like: WHATTTT??! He told me how he visited Romania twice; just Bucharest, but he had a great time. He apparently studied some Romanian for a month before going and I must admit his pronunciation was decent. “I’ve asked everyone to tell me the most horrible things they ever heard, and that’s how I know about ‘sa ma cac in gura ma-tii’ “(this is a very horrible swear in Romanian, something along the line: to shit in your mother’s mouth). >>
He read from his diary and he is amazing at reading and acting his stories, you could listen to him speaking for hours( I know I could :D). Many tragic, most very, very hilarious. But in retrospect I believe he likes to make fun of life’s tragedies. He said something like: “if I cannot laugh/write about something it means I am not far away from it to write about it yet” and isn’t that so true, aren’t many of your funny memories just old tragedies?
With the risk of not citing his exact lines(my memory is to be blamed here and the fact we couldn’t tape him or even photo him..), here are 2 little jokes from the night.
– I went to a college for a public lecture. Afterwords we went for dinner with a group of professors. One was a history professor and told us how in the XVIII century, the Catholic church canonised a dog. Another person at the table said: “I wonder if that was Saint Bernard”
– My assistant had a dog and at a reading a foreign lady approached us and cuddled the dog and then asked: ‘What race is it?’ => this is something that I see myself saying. The word race is used in my language with the meaning breed(for dogs/cats) and when one is not very attentive, it’s so easy for the brain to actually swap the words, ups :p
The diary didn’t attract me and the price was definitely unfriendly :P. My intention was to buy Naked, because it‘s been on my reading list forever, and owning a sign copy would have been motivational, I hoped. But it wasn’t available, so I had a bit of a conundrum on my hands until I spotted Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary. I was immediately reminded of the story about the fox pet he had running in the New Yorker some weeks ago. Story that I absolutely loved(in case you haven’t read it yet, it can be found here).
Well I couldn’t have picked a better book. This little collection of stories, with animals as main characters is gorgeous. Imagine a cross between Aesop’s fables and Grimms’ fairy tales, add some beautiful illustrations by Ian Falconer and you have Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. I must advice you it’s dark, but funny, but rather dark yet so very funny. Remember what I was telling you about the tragicomedy of life? This stories are full of that, full to the brim. So full that apparently Goodreads is full of low ratings. Apparently people are gross out by life. I am like: seriously?? It never stops puzzling me why people would just want to read about rainbows and unicorns. Wouldn’t you want to read and be prepared about life? Especially that, as we say in Romania: life beats any movie! Grow some skin people :p.
I on the other hand, the more I think about it the more I am impressed by David Sedaris’ brilliancy. He portraits so eloquently so many type of characters from the self-righteous to the kiss-ass to the pity-seeking and more. He puts in the limelight humans’ hypocrisy, humans’ stupidity, humans’ ignorance and so on. And he does that in just a few lines with a touch of humour that you cannot stop yourself from falling in love with them stories!
I almost liked each and every little story but I am going to leave you with 2 extracts that made me laugh out loud!
* From “The Squirrel and The Chipmunk”
<<The chipmunk lay awake that night, imagining the unpleasantness that was bound to the place the following morning. What if jazz was squirrel slang for something terrible, like anal intercourse? “Oh, I like it too,” she’d said – and so eagerly! Then again, it could just be mildly terrible, something along the lines of Communism or fortune-telling, subjects that were talked about but hardly ever practiced. Just as she thought she had calmed herself down, a new possibility would enter her mind, each one more horrible that the last. Jazz was the maggot-infested flesh of a dead body, the crust on an infected eye, another word for ritual suicide. And she had claimed to like it!>>
** From “The Parenting Storks”
<<The precocious stork was only two weeks old when he asked where babies come from.[…]
“So is that who brings the babies, God?”
“Lord no,” the stork said. “Babies are brought by mice.”[…]
“Oh, sweetie,” she said, “our babies are huge, so how on earth -”
“These are special mice,”[…]
“Why not tell your son that’s what babies come from -sex. It’s crazy, I know, but maybe it will tide him over until he’s old enough to grasp that whole magic-mouse concept.”>>