Book Diary: The Santaland Diaries (David Sedaris)


(finished reading on 08/01/2012)

I didn’t want to do another post about David Sedaris.  I don’t do a book diary post for every book I’ve read anyway, and as I’ve done nearly all of his back catalogue now, I thought I should give my worshipping a rest.  However, I have three reasons for going back on this.  Firstly, I’m 268 pages into a total (if you count all three books) of 987, of Murakami’s 1Q84, which means a paucity of posts whilst I read and digest it all.  Secondly, it’s worth it just to point out that David Sedaris and Christmas are a winning match that makes the book hard to ignore and finally, there was something in particular that I wanted to make a note of.

I work in a shop and I don’t mean this disrespectfully to my customers, or to do what I do down, but it’s an absolute truth, an actual FACT (I’m basing this on five years and four months of experience) that 99% of people, 99% of the time, ask the same two questions of me.  To the point where I now have a script that I can reel off without thinking, word for word, when these questions arise.  I’m not saying I’m in any way more individual than my customers, far from it, and this is why – in the title piece from this book – there was an observation about us humans, which stuck with me, made me laugh and which I’ve taken forward into my dealings with the world.  Here it is, it is worth sharing:

‘I went to a store on the Upper West Side.  This store is like a Museum of Natural History where everything is for sale: every taxidermic or skeletal animal that roams the earth is represented in this shop and, because of that, it is popular.  I went with my brother last weekend.  Near the cash register was a bowl of glass eyes and a sign reading ‘DO NOT HOLD THESE GLASS EYES UP AGAINST YOUR OWN EYES: THE ROUGH STEMS CAN CAUSE INJURY.’

I talked to the fellow behind the counter and he said, ‘it’s the same thing every time.  First they hold up the eyes and then they go for the horns.  I’m sick of it.’

It frightened me that, until I saw the sign, my first impulse was to hold those eyes up to my own.  I thought it might be a laugh riot.

All of us take pride and pleasure in the fact that we are unique, but I’m afraid when all is said and done the police are right: it all comes down to fingerprints.’



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