Me Talk Pretty One Day

by David Sedaris

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What choices did David Sedaris make in Me Talk Pretty One Day to connect with his target audience?

Quick answer:

David Sedaris connects with his audience almost immediately in Me Talk Pretty One Day by sharing his personal experiences with scrupulous honesty.

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David Sedaris has a particular voice which is unlike any other author, and it is a voice which connects readers to him. He is direct in his language, and he describes both settings and people in a way which makes readers feel each viscerally. Sedaris is funny in a sarcastic, sardonic way, and this allows readers to let their guard down as they are reading, and to let him in.

Sedaris also gets people to connect with his message by appealing to their sensitivities. When he writes about the French teacher who was cruel and bullied Sedaris and his classmates, the reader feels his pain. When he then writes about the teacher's flaws, we, the audience, are rooting for him because we feel as though we, too, have experienced the same injustice.

The structure of the book also allows readers to connect with his writing. Each chapter is an essay, carefully crafted by Sedaris to tell a specific story relating to a wider overall theme. Each essay has a beginning, middle, and end—the payoff. We get the satisfaction of a conclusion over and over again, and each time we do, it comes after putting all of our emotions into what we've been reading. We are rooting for Sedaris, even when we don't agree with what he's doing or saying, and we are rewarded for our loyalty again and again.

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How does David Sedaris connect with his audience to share his experience in Me Talk Pretty One Day?

David Sedaris draws in his readers so quickly because he makes his life an open book. He is always honest, even when that honesty might reflect poorly on him. In the "Me Talk Pretty One Day" chapter in the book of the same name, Sedaris chooses to tell his readers all about his attempts to learn French in France. First, he lets his readers know that he is terrified of his French teacher:

Her temperament was not based on a series of good and bad days but, rather, good and bad moments. We soon learned to dodge chalk and protect our heads and stomachs whenever she approached us with a question.

Next, he relates how he obsesses over his French homework so as not to incur his teacher's wrath. He plays with each homework question for for too long, hoping to carve some sort of identity out for himself:

David the hard worker, David the cut-up.

It does not work. He and his classmates commiserate during breaks and before class. They try to cheer each other up by saying that soon it will get better. For David, it does get better, in a way. Eventually, he learns enough French that he is able to understand the teacher's insults:

The teacher continued her diatribe and I settled back, bathing in the subtle beauty of each new curse and insult.

The chapter is a triumph of storytelling because Sedaris allows readers to put themselves in his shoes, and so many readers can relate to the fear of trying to appease a scornful teacher. Readers feel pity and fear for Sedaris, and they hang on every word.

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