Mouse dotes on her adorable baby corn snake—until, that is, her baby corn snake grows up and craves the taste of mouse flesh. She is but one of the ill-fated characters in SQUIRREL SEEKS CHIPMUNK (Little, Brown, $21.99) by David Sedaris. In this collection of tales, Sedaris maintains his wit and insight, though his tone is darker and more poignant than the light-hearted personal essays that Sedaris fans are used to. The stories are delightfully absurd: the incarcerated cat attending AA meetings, the baboon barber trying to make small talk with his cat client. Sedaris’s furry and feathered characters are a fascinating blend of the ultra-human and the utterly animal. Sedaris uses them to satirize the all-too-human subjects of adultery, hypocrisy, parochialism, and self-absorption. The quirky, yet sinister, drawings by Ian Falconer (children’s series, Olivia) are the perfect complement to the text.
I FOUND THIS FUNNY (McSweeney’s, $25) is an anthology of stories, skits, essays, poetry, and cartoons that manages to be laugh-out-loud hilarious, depressing, and enlightening all at the same time. Writer/director Judd Apatow, of Freaks and Geeks and Knocked Up fame, does a fantastic job as the editor of a collection that includes Raymond Carver, Conan O’Brien, David Sedaris, Flannery O’Connor, Adam Sandler, Jon Stewart, and many more. Apatow doesn’t feel the need to stick to stories that are obviously funny. He also chooses writing that is strange or heartbreaking, non-fiction and fiction. The variety of this collection makes it a constantly surprising reading experience. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Apatow’s work, but also to anyone who likes well-told strories, sharp insight, and a good laugh.