Sedaris makes animals creepy like us in Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

What if animals had complex inner lives–but they were cluttered like our with prejudices, schemes, vanities and weakneses? That’s the animal world David Sedaris imagines in Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, a collection of short stories where we get a glimpse into what animals are thinking and saying to each other.

In most fiction, if you’re going to bother to cross the divide into the world of the non-human mind, there’s a big payoff. Fictional animals are always doing something spectacular–dolphins help court princesses,  wolves are raising orphaned humans and clever blue jays know how to laugh at themselves. Most animals in literature show just phenomenal decency, the kind that makes humans feel inferior. They don’t even have education or thumbs and they out do us.

Sedaris, clearly an animal lover, has invented a creepy world where animals are more like everyday people. Nearly every story has an animal that likes to talk too much about himself or holds some prejudice. A snake can’t tell reptiles and amphibians apart and discriminates against them both. Warblers look down on their Central American kin who don’t migrate. A lab rat thinks rats who get sick only have themselves to blame because of their poor attitude. Imagine every dull co-worker you ever dreaded reincarnated as an animal. That’s what makes these stories so creepy and fascinating.

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Check out Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

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