cover image Happy-Go-Lucky


David Sedaris. Little, Brown, $29 (272p) ISBN 978-0-316-39245-7

Unrest, plague, and death give rise to mordant comedy in this intimate collection from Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day). The author covers rude service workers, difficulties in his own life, and goings-on in “Eastern Europe countries no one wants to immigrate to” where “[T]hugs guard parked BMWs and stray dogs roam the streets.... There are cats too, grease-covered from skulking beneath cars, one eye or sometimes both glued shut with pus.” He faces mask sticklers in a Target checkout line, sees a drunken mask scofflaw on a flight, and communes with BLM protesters while deploring their “lazy” slogans. Much of the book has a dark edge, as it recounts the decline and death of his 98-year-old father; Sedaris voices still rankling resentments—”[a]s long as my father had power, he used it to hurt me”—and recounts his sister’s accusations that their father sexually abused her. As always, Sedaris has a knack for finding where the blithe and innocent intersect with the tawdry and lurid: “His voice had an old-fashioned quality... like a boy’s in a radio serial,” he writes of a Nintendo-obsessed 11-year-old; “ ‘Gee willikers!’ you could imagine him saying, if that were the name of a video game in which things blew up and women got shot in the back of the head.” Sedaris’s tragicomedy is gloomier than usual, but it’s as rich and rewarding as ever. (May)