Paging Philip Sedaris


Title: My Less Than Secret Life

Rating: 3 Stars

I believe in my GoodReads review, I said something very snarky along the lines of visualize David Sedaris crossed with Philip Roth, 1/8th sized.

That’s pretty harsh, but I stand by it. Having said that, I did enjoy this book. Several essays made me laugh out loud.

However, it seemed derivative of the two authors that I just mentioned. From Philip Roth, you have a young hyper-sexualized Jewish schlub, eagerly visualizing women’s bodies, fantasizing what he would like to do with them, and then usually failing miserably when he attempts to live out his fantasy.

From Sedaris, you have the misadventures of quotidian life, told in a open-eyed, unpitying, albeit quite humorous way. The most simple of situations quickly devolve into embarrassingly failures. Writing like this can become the most tedious of narcissistic navel-gazing exercises. Generally speaking, Ames does walk this tightrope well but does on occasion fall off of it.  This could be as simple as the fact that the first 20 or so pieces are very short essays from a column that he wrote. Reading each of these one after the other probably left me a little tired of the form.  It might have been better to have interspersed these within the other pieces in the book.

As I said, I did find several essays amusing. It’s just that, in my mind, he’s walking in the footsteps of previous greatness, and the essays simply don’t measure up to what they seem to be hearkening towards.


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