David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000) is a New York Times best-selling collection of humorous, autobiographical essays. Sedaris has mastered the art of self-deprecating humor. His radio debut was on the NPR's Morning Edition in 1992, where he read his hilarious and now-popular essay “SantaLand Diaries," tales of his experiences working as a Santa elf for a large department store. Shortly after his NPR performance, he was awarded a two-book deal with a major publisher and has since written numerous other best-sellers and frequently performs his works on stage. Me Talk Pretty One Day is Sedaris’s third book.
The twenty-eight essays in Me Talk Pretty One Day cover some of Sedaris’s more awkward school experiences growing up in Raleigh, North Carolina. For example, in the essay “Go Carolina,” Sedaris relates his first encounter with the school speech therapist, who attempted to cure the author’s lisp. Sedaris found it curious that though there were other students who were equally humiliated by being called out of class for special training to rid themselves of speech impediments, it never seemed to be the popular or cute students.
The stories continue as the author moves through several colleges as he tries to decide what to do with his life. Most of these stories make fun of the author, but Sedaris is not shy of also putting members of his family in the spotlight. In the essay called “You Can’t Kill the Rooster,” Sedaris picks on his youngest brother Paul and Paul’s frequent use of curse words. Paul, born at the end of the line of six children, was raised by more relaxed parents. In this particular essay, Sedaris points out that Paul got to do so much more than the older kids were allowed.
When Sedaris moves to Paris with his boyfriend, Hugh, he takes with him his ability to find humor in humiliating situations. In the title essay, “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” Sedaris tries to become more proficient in speaking French but is embarrassed by the teacher. In “The City of Lights in the Dark,” Sedaris admits that he spends much of his time in Paris watching dubbed American movies.
This collection proved so popular that movie director Wayne Wang made an offer to adapt the essays to film. Sedaris agreed for a while, and then changed his mind. He was worried about how his family would be portrayed and backed out of the deal.