A&E

David Sedaris’ animal fables aren’t just kids’ stuff

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I feel bad for readers who don’t know the name David Sedaris. Last week, they walked into Borders, glanced at Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk and dismissed it as a kids’ book or a parody.

But it’s neither; it’s an original, sad, profound, occasionally funny collection of fables advocating a moral code for the 21st century: tolerance, sensitivity, education. It’s hard to pick an overarching message, but if you put a gun to my head, I’d say it’s this: Stop being such a hypocritical asshole. Then I’d knock the gun away.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

By David Sedaris. Little, Brown and Company, $22.
Four stars

Sedaris’ 16 stories (e.g., “The Vigilant Rabbit,” “The Motherless Bear”) cover the same territory as his non(ish)fiction. Look no further than the (nearly) titular essay, “The Squirrel and the Chipmunk.” The rodents’ relationship parallels that of Sedaris and his boyfriend, Hugh. The different worlds coming together, the fear of running out of topics to discuss at dinner, the bonding over mutual dislikes. For the squirrel and the chipmunk, the dislike is a hatred of dogs: “‘They’re spoiled rotten is what it comes down to,’ the chipmunk had said, and the squirrel had placed his paw over hers, saying, ‘That’s exactly it. Finally, someone who really gets it.’”

Buy Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, with drawings by Ian Falconer (the Olivia guy) as a Christmas gift. Buy the Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk audio book for yourself. Sedaris reads the stories along with three amazing storytellers: Elaine Stritch, Dylan Baker and Sian Phillips.

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