Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Wicked Bestiary (David Sedaris)

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is a collection of fables/short stories by David Sedaris.
Finished on: 29.2.2016

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is a little different from the usual Sedaris collections in that all of the stories are short fables (illustrated by Ian Falconer), including the customary animal protagonists (one of them was also published in the Holidays on Ice collection). Most of these stories circle around morality as fables are wont to do, but Sedaris either tries for a darker sense of morality in each or to stay away from clear answers entirely. For me, more often than not it ended up feeling as if he was trying too hard with the collection and stories in it, definitely making it the weakest of the books I recently read.

squirrelseekschipmunkAfter the jump I’ll talk about each of the fables individually.

The Cat and the Baboon

When the cat goes to be groomed by the baboon, gossip comes up.
The story was okay, but doesn’t really stick around, or at least it doesn’t in my head.

The Migrating Warblers

The Warblers have been married for a long time and they’ve always migrated South to Latin America, so they know the local customs pretty well.
This is one of my favorite stories of the collection as it really nails a certain condescending racism.

The Squirrel and the Chipmunk

The squirrel and the chipmunk go on a date. But can their love ever be?
The story was rather amusing, but didn’t really blow me away.

The Toad, The Turtle, and the Duck

The toad, the turtle, and the duck stand in line together and get to complaining together about the service representative who happens to be a black snake.
This is another take on racism by Sedaris, but not quite as poignant or as sharp as it would like to be.

The Motherless Bear

The bear lost her mother very early and when she sees that people will give her attention and comfort because of that, she starts overusing that fact for everything.
To be honest I was very much taken aback by this story that ends way more harshly that I thought necessary. It simply didn’t work for me.

squirrelseekschipmunk2 The Mouse and the Snake

The mouse finds a little snake and decides to keep it as a pet. But snakes need food. And they grow.
Again the story was nice but I saw the ending coming from very far away and was thus not that impressed by it.

The Parenting Storks

How can a conscientious stork parent explain to their child where babies come from?
This was again one of the stronger entries in the collection, I found. I quite liked the twists and turns it took that first suggest one moral point to then head to another.

The Faithful Setter

The setter may not have a faithful wife, but he prides himself in sticking with her regardless.
The story has its moments but overall it just didn’t really hit its mark for me. There was also a certain misogynistic undertone to it that I really didn’t appreciate.

The Crow and the Lamb

The sheep proudly tells the crow all about her great little lamb, but the crow has his on purpose for asking.
This story turns very gruesome and while I can appreciate gore, in this case it bothered me.

squirrelseekschipmunk1The Sick Rat and the Healthy Rat

Two lab rats with very different philosophies meet in a cage. One is convinced that her positivism will keep all bad things away from her.
I’m the first person to question the power of positive thinking when it comes to body and matter but here Sedaris was a little too on the nose and unsubtle to convince me of the merits of the story.

The Cow and the Turkey

The barnyard animals decide to play secret santa for Christmas. The Cow definitely has a special surprise in store for the Turkey.
Re-reading the story didn’t really change my views on it: I liked it but I didn’t love it.

The Vigilant Rabbit

To make everyone feel safe, above all himself, the rabbit starts guarding the gate. But soon his protectiveness turns into a little too much vigilance.
This story was one of the stronger entries in the collection, succinctly illustrating how the Austrian Heimatschutz movement went very wrong (though I very much doubt that this was the intention). Not that it is limited to Austrian experiences.

squirrelseekschipmunk4The Judicious Brown Chicken

The chicken is convinced that whatever fate meets us is an act of god and well-deserved.
I quite liked this story, although it didn’t quite make it into my favorites. It was fun though.

The Parrot and the Potbellied Pig

Her job as a journalist brings the parrot to the museum to interview its new director, the potbellied pig.
This story was slightly sweeter in tone than the other stories in the collection, which was a welcome change.

Hello Kitty

Natural enemies – cat and mouse – meet in an Alcoholics Anonymous program in prison. Things don’t start too well.
This story felt equally lukewarm as many others in this collection, but at least it continued the slightly nicer tone from the story before.

The Grieving Owl

The owl has a pact with herself: she wants to learn as much new suff as she possibly can and so if her prey can tell her something new, she let’s them go. But she might be facing her biggest adventure yet when the hippo tells her about the leeches in her asshole.
This story was absolutely absurd and completely hilarious. If I have to pick a favorite here, it’s going to be this story.

squirrelseekschipmunk3Summarizing: can be skipped unless you’re a die-hard Sedaris fan.

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