Humorous animal fables poke fun at society

"Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk," by David Sedaris. Illustrated by Ian Falconer. Little, Brown, $21.99.

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David Sedaris' new short story collection, an assortment of fictional animal fables, is wildly entertaining and reminiscent of the humor featured in his previous works.

In his new book, "Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk," he shows the insanity of everyday life through animal parodies in typical Sedaris fashion -- blending sarcastic dialogue with mocking characters.

He introduces star-crossed lovers who are prone to prejudices -- those that are hilarious and unjust -- and clearly a commentary on society. This short story, typical of those in the collection, depicts human weaknesses and imperfections in a sardonic tone.

"The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck" is about animal bureaucracy based on racism and discrimination. The intolerance of each species is presented as a mockery of the lives we live. Each story exaggerates human shortcomings -- bigamy, infidelity, dieting, alcoholism, profanity and more.

The stories are passed off as a children's book, complete with illustrations by Ian Falconer, but the subject matter is for adult eyes only.

"The Mouse and the Snake" is a surprising tale of friendship and distrust. The mouse chooses to adopt a snake as a pet, and his friends criticize his decision.

"You're not afraid of my snake," the mouse would insist. "You're afraid of the idea of him."

Mr. Sedaris creates stories, like this one, that criticize society, but he also creates characters, like the mouse, that at least in this passage deserve admiration for their acceptance.

"Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk" judges society, but it also is inviting and realistic. The satirical animals created in this short story collection are sure to entertain Sedaris fans.

David Sedaris will speak at Heinz Hall at 8 p.m. Monday. Tickets: $25-$45; 412-392-4900.

• Read more about David Sedaris in Patricia Sheridan's Breakfast With column in Monday's Magazine and Health section.


Megan Roth: mgroth@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944.


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