David Sedaris - Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Wicked Bestiary (3 stars)

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David Sedaris - Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Wicked Bestiary

(Little, Brown)

Anthropomorphism and popular culture have long been lusty bedfellows. Our tellies are crammed with salesmen masquerading as CGI meerkats, drumming gorillas, dancing cows and nodding dogs. For London-based writer and playwright David Sedaris, however, the transplanting of beasts into human scenarios (dinner dates; press interviews; Secret Santas) serves to explore our mortal flaws. From power-crazed rabbits to death-fearing lab rats, his animalistic characterisations are provocative, poignant, and always accessible: it’s not hard to envisage these creatures (or situations), after all.

While the impact is not as dramatic as that of, say, Will Self’s zoological masterstroke Great Apes, this collection of short stories about journalistic parrots and alcoholic cats is imbued with Sedaris’ humdrum yet surreal humour. ‘What if jazz was squirrel slang for something terrible, like anal intercourse?’ worries a young chipmunk in the title tale. It is funny, preposterous and sad: a furry metaphor for life passing us by.

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