Dear Mr. Sedaris,

24 Sep

Ok, so I’m still writing newspaper articles and ignoring my blog. That is why I’m giving you this, a letter I wrote several months ago, addressing David Sedaris, author of Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. I have never actually sent a letter to an author before because I never cared enough. I shy away from controversy. I shy away from talking about my faith. But there are times when I get hot under the collar and reading this book was one of those times. So I’m posting my letter. I’m doubting that he’ll ever see it, but who knows? Maybe I’ll actually send it to him one day. But, for now, here it is for you…should you care to read on!

Dear Mr. Sedaris,

I bought Me Talk Pretty Someday several years ago, thinking at the time that it was some sort of tie-in to Roger’s and Hammerstein’s South Pacific – a sort of newly-popular version, perhaps, that I kept hearing about – a “Happy Talk” book that sounded to me, an optimist, like a good read.

I was not disappointed when I discovered that it had nothing to do with beaches, the Second World War, or sailors seducing young natives…or was it the other way around? I was a little bit disappointed that it had nothing to do with getting rid of gray hair, as that has been a recent torment in my life. I enjoyed the book and I laughed often as I read it – even reading bits out loud to my husband who, perhaps, did not laugh quite as hard as I did as I read them, but who, nevertheless, deigned to smile.

After reading that book I moved on to other books, not really even realizing that you had others published. I saw your sister Amy on television a few times and finally connected the dots that she is, in fact, your sister. She’s hilarious, by the way. She about gave me a side ache from laughing when she was on Martha Stewart.

Then, this spring, I saw that you had a new book coming out – and I loved the title from the moment I saw it. So, eagerly awaiting the day when my Amazon Wish List could take residence in my Amazon shopping cart, I bought Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls a month or so ago and began reading it last week, after finally finishing up the Percy Jackson books my son implored me to read.

I dug into your book, admiring anew your writing style and remembering how much I enjoy short, easy-to-read-between-making soup, doing laundry, filtering cold-pressed coffee, and-actually-drinking-it activities that consume my day. (That sentence may not have made a lot of sense, grammatically, but I hope you got the gist of it. Or is it gyst? I like that better, actually, but my computer says no.)

Anyway, I began reading it and was liking it until I got to the chapter, “If I Ruled the World”. Okay, okay, yes, you can write what you like and no one is forcing me to read and/or buy it. But I just was so sad and surprised by it because I didn’t see it coming. I mean, you crack me up – and so little literature does that well these days – and then you kinda punched me.

It’s like this: I love Jesus. I truly do. And I believe, fervently, that He is hugely misrepresented in our world today. He doesn’t make or want people to do so many of the things that they do in His name. People are running around saying and doing all sorts of stupid and hate-filled things in the name of Christ, and I imagine that it hurts Him deeply to see that happening in this world He created.

One of those irksome things – albeit a small one – is that people want me to “like” Jesus on Facebook! Come on! I like Jesus – but that doesn’t mean I have to lower Him to a Facebook button. Eww.

Jesus doesn’t need me to be His fan or even to defend Him. He can defend Himself. I’m not writing to you to convert you or to be weird or to fill your inbox with defensive dogma. I just want to tell you that I was so very disappointed by that chapter. I was not expecting to be insulted when I read your book…and yet that’s how I felt. I understand that it was done under the guise of humor…but it was so not funny. I guess I just think that if you knew Jesus the way I do, you might actually be surprised, ‘cause the guy I know is so much better than the image the world has forced upon Him. That guy loves you. Beyond imagination. I so wish you could see Him without the filter of the world’s garbage…

Oh, and yes, I noticed that you even capitalized your pronouns when referring to Him. Somehow that just made it worse.

What is your real view of Jesus, Mr. Sedaris? (I’d call you David, but that seems presumptuous.) How do you really see Him? Do you know that He loves you, no matter what?

Oh, I feel like there is so much I could say, but I won’t. It’s hard to talk about Jesus – hard to know the right words. It’s like trying to describe your imaginary friend whom you’ve known since childhood – BUT HE’S NOT IMAGINARY…just kinda invisible. And yet not. And He’s powerful. And beyond comprehension. How does one describe THAT? How does one describe what one truly believes, based on experience, one enormous book, and a lifetime of faith?

Faith is hard to clothe.

Anyway, I guess I’ve said what I wanted to say and probably – as is usual for me – in far too many words. It’s 10:34 at night and I probably won’t ever send this, but, then again, maybe I will just to let you know that you make me smile so very often…which is why I wish so hard that you hadn’t punched me.

Gretchen O’Donnell

PS – I wish I’d known your sister “Gretchen” when I was growing up – I needed all the Gretchens I could find just to not feel like it was a freakish name!

PPS – I could totally relate to your colonoscopy experience as I myself find all the irritating preparations worth the ten minutes of blissful drug-induced waking up afterwards. Does this mean I have an addictive personality? Or does that mean that people are addicted to my personality? I’ve never been sure of that, but the fact that not everyone who meets me fall madly in love with me, perhaps proves the first thing true and not the second.

PPPS (Sorry, this is getting ridiculous) – I have to admit that I skipped your poem at the end of the book. Just couldn’t take anymore. I apologize. Then again, I don’t apologize at all. I’m a bit of a prude, I suppose, but I’m okay with that.


11 Responses to “Dear Mr. Sedaris,”

  1. treadlemusic September 24, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    Gretchen, Yes, I read the letter…..the WHOLE letter….and survived!!! I have no idea how your comments would tie in to a book of said title but if you say so I know it must be so!!!! The “letter” is an excellent post/read but could be sent off, headed in the appropriate direction, so the episode may have some type of closure (even if that is only for your sake, certainly not his!!). I always enjoy your jottings, although this one is a bit more passion-driven than most! Even so, point well taken. It is good to ‘see’ you again. Please, don’t wait so long……blessings and hugs……….

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 24, 2013 at 8:15 am #

      It’s a book of essays – mostly humorous and autobiographical, but then he throws in a couple chapters that have a different tone and are far more…controversial! I didn’t see it coming and that made it even harder to take, I suppose!

      • treadlemusic September 24, 2013 at 9:02 am #

        “Something for everyone” I s’pose but it isn’t always pleasant to be “blind sided”, especially when the other portions are so wonderful! The man is multi-faceted in his thoughts (as are all of us, in our own peculiar ways!!!). Have a wonderful day…..hugs…..

  2. Minnesota Prairie Roots September 24, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    I have not read the book either. But I expect this letter you have written could apply to many in the world, author or not. To what you have written, I say, “Amen, Gretchen. Amen.”

  3. hotlyspiced September 24, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    It is so true that Jesus today is being so misrepresented and Christians are being so maligned. Although of little comfort, it seems Jesus has always been very controversial and unpopular yet through it all, Christianity has survived. What infuriates me is that those who today go around maligning Christ need to sit up and realise that the nations founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs have enjoyed the greatest prosperity and lifestyle and highest standard of living and the most freedom and best health care and fewer natural disasters etc on this Earth. If you don’t like Jesus, you’re welcome to pack up and move to one of those places that haven’t been founded on Christianity and see how much you like it there. I bought Amy Sedaris’ book, ‘I Like You’. It was very funny and incredibly original and it’s of no surprise it was on the New York Times bestseller’s list.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 24, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

      I seem to have struck a chord with you, Charlie! You’re definitely right that Jesus has dealt with a lot of bad press over the years. And yes, through it all He’s stood the test. I haven’t read Amy’s book – I better check into it! Thanks for your comments…

  4. cravesadventure September 25, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    I say “YOU GO GIRL!” – Great Letter!!! I am debating now if I should keep this book on my reading list or not. So I am going to end my comment with BE BLESSED MY FRIEND, BE BLESSED:)

  5. Jackie September 25, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    I’ve pondered reading this on my Nook, (catchy title) I read what you had to say and probably will not. Thanks for the warning…. I’m hearing what you have to say!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 26, 2013 at 6:19 am #

      Yes, I love the title! I always say that a person should judge for themselves…and it’s a quick read…and since you’ve been warned…it’s up to you! I do not mean to take away sales from him…I just had to vent!!! The librarians tell me that life is too short to read books you don’t like!!!

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