ENGLISH 1A PROMPT – SHORT REACTION #5 PROMPT

Now that you are finished with Sedars’ book, or should be, I have a very specific question for this 5th 2-page reaction, WHICH YOU WILL POST BELOW:

Write a letter to me, Mike Madigan, commenting on how David Sedaris has changed the definition of an “essay”, with his style and form of essay writing.

Don’t over think this, give a couple examples to support your opinion, and ENJOY YOUR WRITING.

BE PASSIONATE ABOUT AND ENERGETIC IN YOU OWN IDEAS!!

31 Comments Add yours

  1. Itzel Hernandez says:

    Itzel Hernandez
    Professor Mikey
    ENGL 1A
    28 October 2021

    Dear professor Mike Madigan,

    I am writing this letter to you about how David Sedar’s and how he has changed the definition of an “essay”. He has been a major source an inspiration throughout each and one of his stories. All of these stories define him as a unique individual and send out many messages.

    The book seems to be his own personal journal. He is documenting his life and all the weird things that have happened throughout the years. It could be viewed in many different aspects of his writing. But he is overall detailed, slowly becomes vulnerable, makes unexpected comparisons, and exaggerates a little. Not everyone will like it at all because they think it just may be about his long life struggles. Where we “all can relate to.” In the chapter, “I pledge of alliance to the bag” in the book always one to see Sedaris’s writing to be very “be you/ yourself” regardless of any situation or comments. Which allow the reader to see all themes in the essay as lesson/ obstacle he has gone through along with many others. His message to me is the joy outweighs the negativity while trying to struggle to learn it.

    We saw how David Sedaris is an individual and struggles by having many difficulties. For example, having multiple jobs such as house painting, performance art, and apartment cleaning all for him to be financially stable. There again life long struggles right? David Sedaris is a master of irony and sarcasm and a writer who can turn diary entries into poignantly crafted stories. Today in society the definition of “essays” is a “short piece of writing that expresses information as well as the writer’s opinion” an example could be why exercising is very is important? Davis Sedaris expresses his emotions along with documenting each important and meaningful period in his life.

    I personally enjoy how he and Irby maybe help today in society and me in generally be more creative with our writing. Writing can be used as a tool that can be used as therapy. It may help others as a therapy method because it can help one express themselves and how one can grow as a bigger person to become more successful and become more intact with one’s self.

    Sincerely,

    Itzel Hernandez

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  2. Adriana Porter says:

    Professor Mike Madigan
    English 1A
    28 October 2021

    Dear Professor Mike Madigan,

    I’m reaching out to you to let you know how this writer, David Sedaris, evolved the meaning of what an essay is. All his stories revolved around interactions and observations from the people and experiences in his life. Every single essay he writes is so unique and individual, but still projects his own voice and experiences.

    Sedaris shared sensitive topics within his writings. He turned the painful experiences into something he can laugh about, but it’s never mocking or ridiculing the experience either. He appreciated both the painful and mundane experiences, and his writing is a representation of how both types of experiences can impact a person’s life. He emphasized the lessons he learned throughout his life from the experiences he endured.

    He amplified the importance of learning through his stories. Being in a whole new environment, learning an entirely new thing is tedious, embarrassing, and even scary at times. He wrote about how he had to go through this embarrassing situation whilst simultaneously dealing with difficult people. Despite having a frightening teacher that further aggravated his insecurity of trying to learn a new language in an unfamiliar environment, he highlighted that the outcome much outweighed the struggle to get there.

    David Sedaris is constantly humbling himself throughout his stories. He wrote about his inadequacies, his resentments, and his difficulties. He wrote about how he lacked motivation to integrate himself into French culture, even though he was currently living in France at the time. But we see the shift in his mindset when he starts devoting a lot of time and effort into a doing a new task, learning the French language. This demonstrates how people are constantly changing and contradicting their own beliefs, which is not necessarily a negative thing.

    In fact, Sedaris is constantly contradicting his previous statements in his writings. It’s fascinating how he frequently rebutted himself within his own writing, but it’s never presented as lying or being untrustworthy. Like every person does, he changes his mind and opinions based on his experiences or moods and portrays that within his essays.

    To tell you how Sedaris evolved and changed the meaning of an essay, first we have to understand what an essay is. I consider an essay to be a cohesive short writing that shares an singular theme or message. Although Sedaris’ stories in “Me Talk Pretty One Day” are anecdotal essays, it is also much more than that. David Sedaris writes by using his personal commentaries about everyday life, human experiences, and his interactions with other people and turning that into something numerous and enjoyable. Sedaris oftentimes uses sarcasm and exaggerations within his writing, which intensifies the humorous aspects of his experiences. He never spared himself, or other people, in his writing, but that allows his stories to be more empathetic to his readers. He takes experiences that readers are both familiar and unfamiliar with, and he’s able to let his readers contemplate these experiences with a different mindset and perspective through his writing. All his essays, even the ones with only a mundane interaction, are thought provoking. We are all flawed human beings, and Sedaris’ stories represent that. By intermingling the mundane and painful through his humorous commentary, he changed the meaning of an essay.

    Truly,
    Adriana Porter

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  3. cenamurphy says:

    Francena Murphy
    Eng 1A
    Professor Mikey
    28 October 2021
    Dear Professor Mikey,
    I am writing to you in regards to my opinion on the writer, David Sedaris, more specifically, how he has changed the meaning of an essay. In general terms, when we hear the word essay, we tend to think of the basic MLA format and long intensive writing that takes hours to perfect. Sedaris has redefined the meaning of an essay, by making it much more personal.

    In each essay, Sedaris journals about his life experiences, ranging from intimate to hilarious situations. He expresses his own thoughts and opinions while also sharing bits and stories into his life. In my opinion, Sedaris has a very unique writing style, his book truly feels like the journal that is sitting on his bed stand that you probably shouldn’t be writing. Him and Irby have a very similar style within their essay series, keeping it very personal while steering away from the typical “essay” format. Both authors have proven that an essay doesn’t always have to have an introduction or conclusion to be considered a viable writing.

    Throughout the series of essays David Sedaris opens up about his personal life. Sharing intimate and painful experiences, prevailing vulnerability. Within these interactions he stresses the importance of the life lessons he learns, and speaks about such light heartedly, but with an urgence to understand that all uncomfortable or saddening situations can be turned into great wisdom. With wisdom, comes experience. He also has an impeccable ability to open up about his own personal difficulties, similar to Samntha Irby, he can laugh about his own viewed discrepancies and celebrate them. This is best portrayed within his relationship with French culture. At the beginning he expressed his resentment to the culture, and unwillingness and lack of motivation to learn it. But as we begin to dig deeper into the chapters, he portrays a huge mindset change as he begins to devote time and effort into integrating himself into the culture and learning the language as well. As he changes his mindset he is able to recognize the shift as well. How does this have anything to do with the prompt, essays don’t typically provide this vulnerability. In today’s society we have been led to think that the word “essay” belongs in a small box of meaning, one that only provides one definition, that long writing about a topic that HAS to have this and that. It has to have the introduction, body, and conclusion, with a thesis and main points. Sedaris disagrees, an essay, by definition, is a short piece of writing about a topic, we tend to forget just how broad this definition really is. Sedaris has escaped this box with his writing, that has little to no structure, but is engraved with life lessons and shared experiences for his readers to laugh at and learn from. He uses his humor to amplify his lessons and provide raw authenticity, you can tell he is telling the truth when he writes.

    Overall, his essays provide authenticity and experiences for one to enjoy. He has defined a new meaning to essays, similar to a journalist, he is able to write about his life without boundaries.
    Sincerely,
    Cena Murphy

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Azmat Hashmi says:

    Azmat Hashmi
    English 1A
    Professor Madigan
    29 October 2021

    Dear Professor Madigan,
    I am writing this letter to inform you about the writer David Sedaris, specifically about how he has changed the meaning of an essay. Usually an essay goes like this: it starts off with a standard MLA heading, then continues on to a polished and perfected piece of writing. But Sedaris has changed that, with his ability to tell his story by being personal with the reader.

    Throughout the book, Sedaris writes stories about his life in each essay, informing the reader about the ups and downs of his life. He shares stories that are humorous and some that are intimate. His wonderfully expresses his thoughts with his writing which captivate the reader. I believe that Sedaris has a writing style which is very different from other writers. It’s similar to how Irby writes her books; they both refrain from hesitation when writing their story, and openly express their emotions to their audience. Sedaris takes a different path when writing his story, and stays away from the “typical” essay. I believe it is proven through Sedaris’ writing that an essay doesn’t always have to pertain to the “typical” MLA style essay. There is nothing wrong with writing a story the way you want, and making it your own.

    Sedaris shares a lot of different experiences he had throughout the book, ranging from amusing and unpleasant stories. He educates the reader that no matter what happens in life, there is a always a lesson to be learned from those difficult moments. Every interaction, every difficulty, and every great experience is something to learn from. Sedaris bravely opens up about his personal stories, passing them on to the reader, allowing them to understand that there is always a life lesson behind every situation. A great example of this can be found in the chapter called “Me Talk Pretty One Day”. Sedaris decided to take French lessons to improve his French. Towards the end of that chapter, Sedaris realized that he could understand every word the teacher yelled to his face. In that moment he understood that even though it seemed like he would never improve, being able to understand what the teacher said was a small step toward getting better at French. I believe this chapter teaches the reader to never give up on anything even if it isn’t going well. There is always a lesson to be learned even from the horrible experiences we face. We are lead to believe that essays need to be perfect, containing an introduction and conclusion. But what Sedaris teaches us is that an essay doesn’t always have to be an ordinary story, following the same format. It can be whatever you want it to be. Sedaris’ story is rich of life experiences and lessons he learned, proving that an essay can be personal and authentic. Sedaris stays true to himself and writes without barriers.

    Sincerely,

    Azmat Hashmi

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Allison Haney says:

    Yes, this response is in-fact also 2 pages long:

    Alli Haney
    Mike Madigan
    ENGL 1A
    10/26/21

    Dear Magnificent Mr. Madigan,

    I am writing to you pertaining to the question of “How has Sedaris changed what an essay truly is? Specifically, how does he do so with his style of writing?“. Compared the last book we’ve read by lovely Samantha Irby, Sedaris makes his essays in Me Talk Pretty One Day seem more of a full length book rather than a selection of chopped up stories piled into a book of his life. Each story is a moment in Sedari’s life that has either been an important learning experience or an utterly embarrassing moment that he must share for a good laugh. One of my favorite chapters was the shortest one in the entire novel, “Me Talk Pretty One Day”- the title chapter. Why did I enjoy this chapter so much. Well I have to admit that I let put a verbal goose-like noise after I read the line, “He call his self Jesus and then he be die one day on two … morsels of … lumber.” (Sedaris, 474).

    I would also like to touch on the main question as to how does Sedaris create a connection with us readers as well as alter the traditional style of a novel-essay? One factor specifically is that Sedaris is excruciatingly truthful in his writing. So much so, as I wonder how he hasn’t been sued for practically admitting that he became an English teacher not knowing what the heck he’s doing and not only that but allowing his students to smoke. I’ve observed that being honest in a body of work promotes a level of trust that typical fictional novels or even biographical novels don’t possess. Out of every single novel that I’ve read in my lifetime, Sedaris’s has to be the most upfront and “least shy” out of my arsenal.
    Continuing on, I learned a lot about Sedaris not only as a character but as an individual. An example is when he met his boyfriend Hugh, they found themselves in France doing all these fun shenanigans. One story that stood out to me was when the couple was on a metro ride (subway in Europe) and Sedaris was accused of being a French pickpocketer…even though he’s American and hand his free hand stuffed into his denim pocket. This chapter stood out to me as this man accusing Sedaris was being an ****hole because of one experience he had the last time he visited France. I would’ve punched the man in the face and walked off on the next stop.

    Would I recommend Sedaris’s collection of novels to you Mikey? I sure would. Each story kept me hooked onto the next and I couldn’t place my phone down (audio-book style 😎). The audiobook contained live versions of some of the stories where Sedaris would come to comedy show and recite a few of them to an audience. To hear the genuine laughter of these people just goes to show how much they enjoyed the book, just as much as I did.

    Until next time,
    Alli the Dort

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mikemadigan says:

      Thank you for this!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Leyla Craven says:

    Leyla Craven
    Professor Madigan
    English 1A
    1 November 2021

    Dear Professor Mikey,

    I am very eager to write to you about how reading David Sedaris’s book Me Talk Pretty One Day has changed my ideas about what an essay is “supposed” to be. During all of my elementary and secondary education, the idea was hammered into my head that an essay is supposed to follow a very unforgiving structure; a thesis statement followed by a few body paragraphs carefully elaborating your points, neatly wrapped up with an introduction and a conclusion. We were graded more heavily on the structure of our essay than the context of our writing and the knowledge we acquired researching for it. I think this is what leads many young people to start to dread writing because they have been constantly chastised for not following its rules. David Sedaris throws all of these rules out the window and has a very relaxed and natural approach to writing. Rather than being detached and formal, Sedaris engages his readers with a conversational and friendly tone while explaining some of his life’s stories. The structure and length from essay to essay varies greatly, with short zingers like “Big Boy” and “Today’s Special” condensed into three or four pages, and more serious and emotionally revealing stories like “Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist” and “The Great Leap Forward” span across 20+ pages. No careful attention is paid to the formal academic standards of writing, the stories flow naturally and conversationally. Each essay is distinctive and has a lasting effect on the reader no matter its length. There is no need to blatantly explain each story’s meaning with an awkward thesis at the start of each essay, as Sedaris is able to clearly convey his ideas in a more subtle and artistic way.
    Sedaris has changed the definition of an essay and what purpose they hold because his work is deeply personal and intimate with an emphasis on how the reader can apply Sedaris’s stories to their own lives. The stories are unique to Sedaris’s life but have universal themes. I personally found a glimpse of myself in “A Shiner Like a Diamond”, even though the main story it holds is shockingly hilarious and nothing like anything I have seen or done myself. I found myself understanding exactly why David’s sister Amy wore that fat suit and how much she enjoyed her father’s reaction to it. Existing as a young female inevitably means that your appearance will be carefully observed and criticized, and the satisfaction of diverting or disgusting the male gaze is a satisfying pleasure for many of us. I also was attached to the essay “Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist”, as it reminded me very much of the 4 years I spent in an art high school and the college-aged art students I knew during the same time. The culture of drugs and mental instability fueling your creative pursuits still exists today over forty years after Sedaris’s time as an art student. His essay criticizes and denounces this culture while also showing how immersed he was in the lifestyle when he was younger. While reading I found myself relating very much to younger David’s mindset and realizing how silly it truly was. A third story that I found amusingly relatable was “The Learning Curve”; after fourteen years of schooling I certainly have had teachers like young Sedaris who were entirely unprepared for the realities of conducting a classroom, and I found it very entertaining to see into the minds of these terrified young teachers.
    What makes “Me Talk Pretty One Day” so valuable and unique compared to other collections of essays is Sedaris’s ability to transport the reader to many of his past roles in life; a cynical young boy in music classes unable to master his instrument, a kid with a speech impediment trying to fit in, the son and brother of some very strange people, a drug addicted and depressed college student, a struggling teacher or moving man, a strange American trying to surpass a language barrier to start a new life in France; and many, many more. Sedaris is the kind of person that everyone can relate to just a little bit due to the may experiences he has had. His essays are not meant to serve a larger academic purpose besides providing comfort and connection with his readers through the use of comedy. I realize now that an essay doesn’t have to be some laborious process filled with rules and regulations, and I’m excited to emulate Sedaris’s approach when I write about my own life!

    Thank you for reading,

    Leyla 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mikemadigan says:

      Nice!!! Thanks for posting this!

      Like

  7. jackmillerr says:

    Jack Miller
    Professor Mike Madigan
    English 1A
    1 November 2021

    Dear Professor Madigan,
    The typical essay is a relatively short piece of writing centered around a specific subject at the discretion of its author. David Sedaris takes the concept of an essay and disregards it entirely, turning an essay into a conversation between its author and its many readers. While the essays written by Sedaris in Me Talk Pretty One Day are not literal conversations between the author and its readers, they are the type of conversations that one typically has internally associated with complex thought and evaluation. His writing style also embodies the theme of turning an essay into a conversation as he frequently makes sarcastic remarks and interweaves layers of irony. Any reader could learn a thing or two from David Sedaris’ writing, maybe not so much from things he has done or experiences he has had but to each their own. What is being referred to here is the way he delivers his experiences. Rarely, if not at all through the duration of this novel did Sedaris belittle himself, recounting what he could have or should have done in a past event. Instead he made his errors humorous which require a certain level of self acceptance and being comfortable in one’s own skin. Not to say Sedaris knows no shame, but to say he is content with who he is and thus allows him to speak freely and unbounded in his essays.

    The concept of writing a book may seem like a daunting task to some. A typical book has many characters, an evolving story line, an underlying plot, some form of theme or message, and finally it has to captivate the attention of its readers. While shurely Sedaris is capable of writing a book in this fashion, he defies the norm choosing to write Me Talk Pretty One Day in the form of a collection of essays each one detailing an experience or memory. By choosing this writing style it feels as if the reader is sitting down to have a conversation with Mr. Sedaris every time they open the book. Furthermore each and every one of these conversations between Sedaris and the reader feels like two friends are meeting to talk about old times and funny memories all while offering insight and reassurance on worldly problems. Sedaris chooses to refrain from beating himself up over mistakes in his essays and instead always find comedy even amongst his own tragedy. This attitude allows his writing to be light and easy to read even when the overarching theme of the essay is heavy.

    To Sedaris an essay is no longer a formal piece of writing. That is not to say his essays are not eloquently written but merely says there is more to them than recounting the events of an experience or topic in a manner of fact tone. The takeaway is the dialogue created, this can be an internal dialogue kept amongst the reader or one in which the reader mentally poses questions so Sedaris pertaining to the Essays detained. Either way this style of writing captures the reader’s eyes and ears as if Sedaris is letting them in on some kind of inside secret from his past. Now on a personal note I thoroughly enjoyed reading this collection of “essays” and would recommend this book to anyone who does or doesn’t know Sedaris already. However I will say the audiobook version where Sedaris reads the essays himself is ten times better as it perfectly captures his tone and inflection. This is my take on his writing style and reconstructed definition of an essay and merely my opinion. For someone like yourself who has undoubtedly read this book multiple times I would be curious to hear what you think of his writing style or any other thoughtful insights. No response required, simply curiosity.

    Best wishes, Jack Miller

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  8. Andrew Carniglia
    Professor Madigan
    ENGL 1A
    28 October 2021

    Dear Professor Mike Madigan,

    I am writing to you today in the attempt to tell you just how Sedaris has changed the way of writing essays. Not only did he change the way to write essays, but he opened my mind to how I enjoy reading books as well. Being able to connect to what the author is speaking is truly a different experience and one I wish to hopefully pass on to you. For an author to create this sense of a “personal journal” to where he documents his most intimate memories and experiences, and shares it with the world is incredible. After reading this book, it has motivated me to begin searching for more authors and artists who create similar work. Work that I can connect to personally that they have to offer to the world. Reading each story I never felt lost in Sedaris’ mind. Where each moment felt like it was him telling the story on a deeper level. Almost as if it was a journal that I wasn’t supposed to read, although something kept gnawing at me to continue on.

    Sedaris is a very inspiring writer where he teaches so many lessons about life and relationships. Each chapter comes with a new lesson to be learned that teaches even from the worst of the worst moments in life, you will always be led to improvement. For example, when he was trying to learn French and eventually he did through trial and error, he still overcame those difficulties of learning the language and can now speak it. Even though this is just one significant moment in his life, it still portrays the message that from the lowest moments in our lives comes the best people. These stories within the book are what makes Sedaris such a relatable author and that is why I appreciate his work so much. The chapter “Picka Pocketoni” to me was the best example of how Sedaris does such a great job of telling a story through only observations. The entire chapter he goes without saying anything until the end and it is still one of my favorite chapters. The way that Sedaris observes Martin as he is saying all this bad stuff about him is extremely entertaining and interesting in how he pulls off only narrating what is happening in the moment. This way of writing about a story is one of my favorites, which is why I think through these types of stories, Sedaris was able to change the way I’d go about writing an essay. He also changes the way I view essays and books as well from this way of humorous writing.

    Overall, the personal relationship I can get from Sedaris’ writing is what has led me to believe he has changed the way I view essays and writing as an art form. From now on I’m convinced that I will never read a book the same due to the third party feel of yet a very personal and observational story. The way he is able to narrate his story is one that will most certainly draw me back to this book and to his other creations. I hope my explanation inspired you to read his stories and please write back your thoughts as well:)

    I hope to speak again soon.

    Sincerely,
    Andrew Carniglia

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Claudia Gomez says:

    Claudia Gomez
    Professor Mike
    English 1A
    29 October 2021

    Dear professor Mike Madigan,

    I am writing you this letter based on the writing of David Sedaris. And how he has changed the definition of an “essay”. While reading the book Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris I see that in each essay in the book. Are stories that define him as a unique individual. These essays are in complete detail which attracts more readers to read them.

    In each page he writes about his life and his writing helps get his message out to his readers by writing in full detail. Furthermore he writes by using his own personal experiences as a human.

    In the book Sedaris’s writing sometimes has sarcasm in it.By intermingling the mundane and painful through his humorous commentary, he changed the meaning of an essay.His determination and ability to make the best of what he got, gets him through a hard time and makes it better and educational.

    In other words the main point of this story is no matter where you’re from, or where you are in life, when learning a new language for the first time it can be an intimidating journey for anyone. Just as for him, learning a new language was difficult for him. He didn’t back down. I believe that his purpose is to motivate college students who may be experiencing a difficult course with a less than pleasant teacher so that he may inspire students to achieve all their goals.

    The chapter “I pledge Allegiance to the bag” shows an example from when he moved to France to learn French and how his fear went beyond the classroom when doing everyday things. One way this supports his story is when he talks about how he would avoid going into the grocery stores or coffee shops because he was afraid he would have to speak French. “My fear and discomfort crept beyond the borders of the classroom and accompanied me out onto the wide boulevards. Stopping for a coffee, asking directions, depositing money in my bank account: these things were out of the question, as they involved having to speak. “(Sedaris, 2000).

    In my opinion I personally like how Samantha Irby and Davd Sedaris help in today’s society. Reading their books has helped me be more creative with my writing. Writing can be used as a tool to express someone’s feelings.

    Sincerely,
    Claudia Gomez

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mikemadigan says:

      Thanks for this post, Claudia!! Happy you enjoyed his work!

      Like

  10. Rory Parsons says:

    Rory Parsons
    Professor Madigan
    English 1A
    30 October 2021

    Dear Professor Mikey,

    The purpose of my letter is to discuss how David Sedaris changed the definition of the word essay. In classical English the term essay is defined as “a short piece of writing on a particular subject”. But, as we all know, Sedaris is renowned for not following classical rules. Sedaris changed this definition because he doesn’t write essays with the intent to give his opinion on a particular subject, his only goal is to tell stories from his life so we can make our own conclusions on how best to live ours.

    In my life I have noticed that the best leaders don’t force their opinion on others, they simply share objective experiences. This method is best because it allows for the listener to make his own conclusions about the presented information. A classic example of Sedaris doing this was when he talked about getting off of drugs and alcohol. This tends to be a highly controversial subject for most people, but in this essay Sedaris played his cards perfectly. Instead of giving some overly opinionated advice, he simply told the story of him becoming sober. Sedaris stated that he couldn’t imagine a life as boring as one that didn’t involve some kind of substance use, but admitted that life simply goes on and is just less thrilling. There was almost no commentary included on why we should or should not partake in drug use. Here he encourages the reader to consider their own choices on the subject, but does not seem to back either opinion.

    Another way Sedaris changed the definition of an essay is with his personal style and relaxed tone. Reading his work is nothing like reading some bland academic literature or overly formal publication. For me his work felt like a conversation we were having, possibly over dinner in Paris or New York. It was easy to imagine Sedaris telling these stories, using the exact same wording, at some kind of casual social gathering. This was what made his version of essays extremely enjoyable, I have always loved listening to the stories of others throughout my life. Hearing their experiences and questioning how I would handle their situations has always been a positive experience. It was especially delightful with Sedaris because we have lived quite different lives. Getting to wonder how I would handle his father or whether I would enjoy living in Paris was what made consuming his work transform from homework to an activity I looked forward to. He has mastered the art of connecting with the reader on a personal level, most essays cannot do this.

    Most of the essays I have read are third person versions of major world events, with Sedaris the opposite is true. His essays are much more personal, nearly all of them speak on a subject most tend to keep private. The primary example of this is the opening essay “Go Carolina” ; it is on his experience with speech therapy during grade school and the bullying he received from his peers. I had a similar experience in elementary school and have chosen to keep most details of this to myself. Reading this immediately made me gain a high level of respect for Sedaris, it takes a great deal of self confidence to face our imperfections. Including this kind of content in his essay’s also makes them much more engaging for any reader. We all have imperfections and must learn to accept them mentally, hearing someone else explain their insecurities and how they dealt with them can be a massive help. Since Sedaris regularly tackles these difficult topics, his essays are much more valuable than generic ones.

    Sedaris is an unconventional author who of course, made his own unique definition of the word essay. In his work there is no forced opinion or excess of formalities. He simply turned essays from pieces of writing that would bore most to meaningful conversations about his life experience and ours, this is all because he is willing to connect with the reader and tackle difficult topics. I highly recommend you read as much David Sedaris as possible, his work can serve as a gateway for deep reflection on our own lives.

    Sincerely,
    Rory Parsons

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  11. Selah Earnshaw says:

    Here is my 5th writing prompt!

    Hopefully this works now..so sorry for the previous inconveniences. -Selah

    On Thu, Oct 28, 2021 at 11:45 AM #professormikey wrote:

    > mikemadigan posted: ” Now that you are finished with Sedars’ book, or > should be, I have a very specific question for this 5th 2-page reaction, > WHICH YOU WILL POST BELOW: Write a letter to me, Mike Madigan, commenting > on how David Sedaris has changed the definition of an “e” >

    Like

  12. Ashiyana Gauchan says:

    Ashiyana Gauchan
    Mike Madigan
    English 1A
    1 November 2021

    Dear Professor Mikey,

    I am writing this letter to you regarding my opinion on how Sedaris has changed the definition of an “essay”. His essay in this book is not our usual type of essay. It is not in an MLA format, requiring a particular font and size with specific spacing. A normal essay would always require an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion, but Sedaris showed, essays don’t always have to be in a specific way. It doesn’t have to be ideal and professional. He displayed this by writing essays from his heart and making them personal.

    Every single one of the chapters had authenticity allowing me to be more focused and connect to the book. He had to deal with many problems that we all had faced at one point in our life. For example, moving to a different country where everything is new, or having troubles in the family. I can relate to him because I moved to America from Nepal when I was eleven years old. At first, it was kind of hard because I was not very good at English and I was a shy kid. But over time, I learned to live in a new place with happiness and hard work.

    With all the struggles and hard work David had to go through, he was not pessimistic, instead, he added humor in that situation. In the chapter “A Shiner like a Diamond”, his dad comments on his daughter’s weight and says that no guy would marry her. In that pressing moment, he makes a joke saying that many men prefer rear ends like that. This made me realize that humor could also be his way of coping. Many people have different coping mechanisms. Some overeat, read books, exercise, etc. In David’s case, it is humor. Humor keeps him sane and alive.

    These are all very personal topics he brought up in his essays. He mentions relationships, struggles, having fun, and also teaches us life lessons. He made his book free and mellow that we would not get from any other essay. He wrote the essay in a way that allowed us to read with passion and with no pressure.

    Overall, I like the feel of this book and how easy going it is. This book taught me many things about not just life but also writing. Life is hard, but we have to stay strong and keep ongoing. Writing is not always fun, but when we are writing from our heart and enjoying what we are writing, that is more important.

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  13. Adena Moses says:

    Adena Moses
    Mike Madigan
    English 1A
    3 November 2021

    Dear Professor Mikey,

    After reading “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris, he clearly changes the way essays are written because he does not stick to a specific formula, structure, or pattern. You can tell that whatever emotion David is feeling he simply just rolls with it. He is not scared to be open and honest about what he was feeling or thinking. His essays are based on his feelings and thoughts, not a prompt to follow.

    I believe David’s father has a lot to do with how he lives outside the rule book. In the chapter “Genetic Engineering”, David says “to me, the greatest mystery of science continues to be that a man could father six children who share absolutely none of his interest” (Sedaris 33). This shows that his fathers inability to bend rules made it hard for him to connect with his son on a deeper and more personal level. By David’s form of essay writing, gives him more opportunities to express his differences with his father. This allows us to really feel his emotions, and really see his life growing up. He does not just give facts but feelings, which helps us understand who David is now.

    On the other hand, his mother helped shaped his creativity. She gave him a space to be himself and be open about things instead of shying away because he was afraid of the conversation that was going to happen. David once asked his mother, “how the radio worked and her answer was simple: ‘turn it on and pull out the goddamn antenna.'” (33). Having such a simple response made David more open to communicating with his mother, and asking questions to get a simple answer.

    Traditionally, essays do not use a lot of cursing to get a point across. However, in the chapter “You Can’t Kill the Rooster” he uses the word fuck numerous times. By not following an academic standard, you are more able to understand the difference he has between him and his little brother.

    Due to David’s emotional openness and lack of academic structure has helped him reinvent the way essays are written. After reading his book, I feel when I go to write my own essay I will not be afraid to put in my own emotion to help get my point across more clear. Having these wonderful examples of authors who use comedy to cope and openness about their feelings in a writing that is most of the time assumed to be structured and academic, is inspiring.

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  14. Marcos Espinoza says:

    Marcos Espinoza
    Professor Mikey
    ENGL 1A
    3 November 2021
    Dear Professor Mikey,

    Today I am writing to you to discuss how David Sedaris has modified and completely transformed what an essay truly is. Sedaris isn’t known to follow a set of rules when he writes instead he actually tries his best on what he is feeling in the moment and tries his best to express that in his writing. Sedaris tries very hard throughout his writing to connect and express all these experiences with the reader as the author to show what writing can be about since most people who dread writing essays and stories mostly dislike the fact of having to make an essay in a format that can be arduous at times. When people think of essays they will instantly go to a standard MLA format of an introduction two to however many body paragraphs where you explain different reasons on the entire subject of the essay to grasp at the reader and coming into a conclusion where the reader then leaves with a bit of knowledge or information they didn’t previously have. This is a basic definition of what an essay is however how David Sedaris actually goes against this standard of writing and really tries to express how he wants to write.

    Now on the point of how David Sedaris actually transformed what an essay he did through the collection of stories and experiences in his life while not following the basic structure of most literature. One of the ways Sedaris does this is through the length of a chapter. In the book, there are a couple of chapters that span more than 21 pages just like “Twelve Moments in the Life of an Artist” while others such as “Jesus Shaves” last a mere 7 pages. These chapters while in different sections of the book represent Sedaris will to challenge the 4 average writing style instead of building up to a point in his life or trying to influence his readers to adopt a certain belief on any subject he simply writes what he is feeling at the moment while explaining what significance its had on him. If we go more in-depth into what Sedaris actually says in these experiences you can find a lot of confusing stories and life encounters that in ways contradict but at the same type also correlate very well with each other. At some points, it seems as if Sedaris is trying to resent his past but he’s not trying to deny it and actually embraces these experiences for the better making him a more remarkable person than he already is. I would be more than interested in what way does David Sedaris changes his essay writing and your overall points of writing.
    Speak to you soon,
    Marcos Espinoza

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  15. Davide Migotto says:

    Davide Migotto
    English 1A
    11/3/2021

    Dear Professor Mikey,

    After reading David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day I have come to the understanding that essays aren’t created through a famula. David Sedaris writes his thoughts and feelings with no specific structure or guidelines that suppress his authenticity. His essays flow from his thoughts seemingly unblocked as if he writes and speaks with the same ease. He writes with a sense of freedom.

    I have theories that it’s David’s childhood that taught him the freedom of his writing. During his childhood he was subject to a world that viewed him as an outsider. A world where he had to confine his true identity. Whether being more manly or always being told to follow in his fathers footsteps, he wasn’t expressing his true self. Even his speech therapy outcasted him, controlling even the way he spoke. “The word therapy suggested a profound failure on my part. Mental patients had therapy. Normal people did not.” After spending a childhood trying to fit in, it wasn’t until he grew up that he saw the value in expressing yourself.
    It wasn’t until David Sedaris grew a little that he found his own voice. He begins to step out of the confinement of what he is supposed to be, and is on the journey of becoming who he wants to be. He admits, “It’s unrealistic to live your life within such strict parameters.” He is right of course but he’s able to convert that thought process of life into his writing. What I read felt like I was reading his brain. No filter, pure honest expressions about who he was. He doesn’t restrain from certain vocabulary that you’re taught as a student to avoid. David is not trying to complete a word minimum requirement or fill pages up. He doesn’t care about run on sentences or short sentences. David doesn’t fit the academic standards of writing, which feels wrong because it should be the standard goal that we are taught. What matters is what he’s saying and in the end that’s all the reader can focus on. He keeps the reader entertained because (as you have recommended before) he is enjoying his writing.
    I really admire the way David Sedaris writes. His freedom from the traditional way of writing allows his thoughts to flow onto the page. It would be a great skill to have, but of course as with many things, easier said than done. With time and practice I can be done, maybe one day I can write as freely as David Sedaris.

    All the best,
    Davide Migotto

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  16. ericalbor says:

    Eric Albor
    Professor Mike Madigan
    English 1A
    11.3.2021

    Dear Professor Mike Madigan,

    David Sedaris has changed the definition of what an essay is by giving his writing it’s own unique style to compliment his storytelling.

    Sedaris Imbues his stories with his own life. There are multiple stories he has retold in an imaginative manner, and they all are made more entertaining as a result. A good example of this ‘reimagining’ of his memories is the first chapter “Go Carolina” where it begins ominously with Sedaris, as a child, being taken by his ‘agent’, which misleads his readers. He then pulls back that curtain and suddenly it is no longer an agent, but a counselor taking him to her office. These moments he imagines makes his writing much more engaging and entertaining. Not only can Sedaris create more engaging writing by how he writes it in, but also how he establishes it. This book is different from others because before I have read what I can best describe as pretentious novels. They write in such different ways that I am convinced there is no significance rather than just for the sake of being different and being applauded for it. That is not even mentioning how subtle they make their symbols that make it impossible for a casual reader to notice. As far as I am concerned, books of “literary value” are awful. They deter students from liking the activity of reading and they sure aren’t showing the author’s influence on the pages of the book. Which is why I love reading David Sedaris, and Irby, because they go above the typical ideals, but they are still filled with significant meanings that do not need to be subtle since they are what drives the essays.

    Sedaris is a master of storytelling. Sedaris perfectly includes as much as he needs in one essay to be sure that his readers have context and understand the significance of the essay. He does it so well. He sets up whatever information a reader would need to contextualize the chapter leading up to ‘an event’ that represents the themes of the essay. It happens in most chapters like “You Can’t Kill the Rooster”, “The Youth in Asia”, and “The Learning Curve” just to name a few of these instances. In “You Can’t Kill the Rooster” the event it leads up to is the Rooster staying by his dad’s side through disaster and disaster, so it leads up to this moment where the themes of the essay collide to become obvious for the reader to pick up on. In “The Youth in Asia” the events this leads into is the realization that replacing a beloved dog with another does not work. As the father learns the hard way when he adopts another dog immediately after his Great Dane passes to try and relive those past memories he wanted to keep a hold of.

    Best Regards,
    Eric Albor

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  17. Nicholas Latorre says:

    Nicholas Latorre
    Mr. Madigan
    English 1A
    4 November 2021

    Dear Mikey,
    David Sedaris writing style has opened my eyes to writing my own essays. I have noticed that you don’t need to follow any kind of format that we are taught in high school. David throws that whole format in the garbage and writes how he truly wants to. He starts some of his essay with dialogue from the very start of it, which I haven’t seen before. An example of this in the chapter, “Tapeworm Is In”, where he has a conversation about going to a “pleasant” restaurant. It is a very different way to begin an essay that I am not use to. Although, I think it is a great idea to begin an essay in that fashion. It intrigues the reader into the new chapter because you are hit with a conversation that you don’t have much or any background about, therefore you are just reading a conversation.
    David uses the book as a journal full of experience that have occurred in his life. He is going through many struggles in his life which then uses to create this collection of essays. They all seem to have their own meanings and reasons. We as the readers get to a lot of knowledge about David after only a couple of his essays. He is very reflected off the page for the reader. As the reader you get to see the different scenarios he had to go through in his life. When he worked as a personal assistance for the Colombian lady, he explains how she expected him to do things which he wasn’t able to do. For example, call the bird into the house, which the woman thought was the bird who had a reward if it was caught. He had to work under this lady so he could be somewhat financially stable. David’s other jobs like his arts and moving furniture were also explained in the essays and how he felt about them. He would also mention crazy things like his crew when working as a mover. One of his co-workers being a murder and now working alongside him. David is easily able to express himself to the reader and elaborate on thoughts.

    David has taught me in this collection of essays that there is not correct way to write an essay or story. It is up to you on how you want it to be written. There are indeed better ways to make an essay so it is easier and more engaging for other to want to read. David didn’t only include his funny and good experiences; he actually included many bad experiences. He mentions these situations because he wants the reader to see that everyone goes through struggles in their lives. Your struggles might be worse or not as bad as his but in the end, we all struggle and run into obstacles. He demonstrates that one should just acknowledge only the positive aspects of life but all of them. By acknowledging all the factors in his life, they all hold values to his book in the end. Writing about something terrible that happen in your life is nothing to be ashamed of, it happens to the best of us. David has shown me that writing is what you make of it and to not be ashamed about your past, actually be glad it happened.

    Like

  18. Jared Foreman says:

    Jared Foreman
    Professor Mike Madigan
    English 1A
    4 November, 2021

    Dear Professor Mikey,
    I am coming forth this evening to write to you in regards and detail the true reason why the great author David Sedaris has personally and socially changed the way we as humans perceive, look, and read the “essay.”

    When reading memoirs and essays turned to chapters I always find the author over rationalizing their experience with things in their life and moments that they find important to tell in their own book of essays. With Sedaris this over exaggeration and having explicated, detailed moments we find throughout the book are so special. I’m not here throwing shade at Samantha Irby because we also read her memoir book, but I found that Sedaris has that orthodox way of writing essays that come together and sort of make more sense, kind of like our high school format of MLA and 5 paragraphs in order making complete and utter sense, with that complete structuring, and Sedaris took that and threw most those structuring rules out the window and just flowed with his writing which is why I found it to be one of the more beautiful and laid back books I’ve read. I had trouble following along with Irby and I think she would write these funny comedic essays, and store them and when the time came she stuck them all together, and I think Sedaris had these essays all written within a relative time period of each other and the placement of chapters was strategized.

    Sedaris creates his essays with complete satire but very subtle at least I found so. If we’re comparing, or answering the question at hand: “how David Sedaris has changed the definition of an “essay”, with his style and form of essay writing.” I say he comes at it with such unique detail there’s not that structured tale that every essay has with that plain introduction and the thesis to “hook you in,” he creates the most mundane story of his life and has so much enjoyment in what he does every day that this amazing writing he gives to us is just so natural. He could be detailing a story about the fly on an elephant and could write about it for hours on end giving us these hysterical details that make readers like myself burst into laughter about the most random things on the planet.
    I just loved on “You can’t kill the Rooster” how detailed and straightforward everything he details is. This essay actually had that intro beginning to it with the back story and how uncensored his brother is but I hysterically had a great laugh. “Certain motherfuckers think they can fuck with my shit, but you can’t kill the Rooster. You might can fuck him up some times, but, bitch, nobody kills the motherfucking Rooster. You know what I’m saying?” His writing is just so hysterical and real and I love that quote detailing the bar fight. There is no doubt I will read another book written by him as we have a plethora in my household 🙂 I think one of the biggest takeaways I had from Sedaris’ book is that this “difference” and that changed style of essay writing captivates readers to relate his experiences so deeply and personally into your life and that’s exactly what happened to me while reading “Me Talk Pretty One Day.”
    Sincerely,
    Jared

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  19. Emily Zamora says:

    Emily Zamora
    Professor Mikey
    English 1A
    4 November 2021

    Dear professor Mikey,

    I am writing this letter to you in regards to how David Sedaris changed the meaning of an essay. He demonstrated that you don’t need to follow the traditional MLA format to have a good essay. He just wrote however he wanted and what made sense to him. In every chapter there was a new story on his life experiences. Reading each one was like opening a memory in Sedars’ mind. You can see how he becomes more confident in who he is compared to the beginning of the book where he was embarrassed to leave his class to go to speech therapy. He went in depth to describe what he was talking about which actually helped me visualize helping me stay engaged in the book and wanting to read more each time.
    Sedaris does a good job of describing and expressing how he feels about people when he brings them up. It makes you believe like he made a list on each one of them with his views and feelings toward them. He added some sarcasm throughout the book too which was also enjoyable to read.
    He goes through many downfalls that become life lessons in which we can all learn from. The great part is that he does not deny what has happened to him or what he has gone through but he embraces and accepts it and tells it as if it’s just something normal from the past with no concern. Even after all his downs he got right up which comes to show you can always overcome your problems even at your lowest point in life. We all have flaws and Sedaris just accepted them without problem. An example of this would be his drug addiction, he felt like life wasn’t the same without them but managed to sober up and move on even if he still wanted to do them.
    His choice of wording made it seem as if he was talking to me. Many books out there make you feel like you’re reading a story which you obviously are but with this book it feels like I am having a conversation with him and he is telling me about the things he has gone through while we are sitting across from each other.
    Overall, I am glad you brought this book to my attention as it gave me a sense of a different style of writing and helped me discover a new way to do my writings compared to all the other ones. He made his writing how he wanted without hesitation. There were short chapters and long ones. By giving the structure and tone of his writing he was able to change the meaning of an essay.

    Sincerely,
    Emily Zamora

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  20. Kaia Stites says:

    Kaia Stites
    Mike Madigan
    English 1A
    04 November 2021
    Dear Mike,
    I am writing to you today to talk to you about David Sedaris’ writing. Specifically how he used his writing to change the definition of an essay through his book Me Talk Pretty One Day. Like Samantha Ibry’s book We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, Sedaris fills this book with 28 individual essays. Sedaris and Ibry both opened my eyes to what a book can be because of this type of book style. I had only ever read a book where the chapters are in chronological order and directly connect to the previous chapters. Sedaris’ book and essays made me look at essays in a new light as well.
    Before this book I thought an essay had to focus on one idea and present the idea in a formal tone. I also thought an essay had to follow a certain format and have something the reader can take away from the essay. This is why during our Irby unit, I said Irby’s writings were short stories not essays. Sedaris didn’t necessarily change the mold I think an essay should fit but he more helped me widen my views of what could fit into this mold.
    Sedaris showed me that essays don’t have to have a clear takeaway. Sedaris told many stories, some with clear lessons and some without. After reading more and more stories I realized that every story had a message which would make these essays fit into my idea of an essay better. For example, some stories were quick and seemed to have no real importance but I realized that it isn’t always what the story is about. Sometimes it is what is affected by the author sharing it. There were several essays that I finished and felt nothing after but after reading several essays like this I realized that Sedaris was showing, whether he intended to or not, that sometimes life is mundane. Life isn’t always going to be this big story or lesson. An essay that helped me come to this conclusion is “Today’s Specials”. Through these different life experiences he made me realize that there is a lesson someone can take away from just hearing the story. This again made me broaden my requirements for what can be considered an essay.
    Something that I was always taught was that essays are usually used to convince the reader of something or to get the reader to see something in a certain way so it should be formal. This way you are taken seriously and listened to. Sedaris combats this idea by using humor to discuss serious topics like drug abuse. Previously I would have thought that using humor would make this essay more into a short story because it wouldn’t be taken seriously. People would see the humor and just see it as a stupid silly story. But now I am able to see how a little humor can create such a good bond between the writer and the readers. Humor isn’t always informal, sometimes it is captivating and a good essay should be captivating. This made me expand my thoughts of what “formal” is and if it is necessary for an essay because Sedaris was able to show many times that adding humor to a story doesn’t take away from it’s seriousness.
    In conclusion, Sedaris pushed me on my idea of what an essay is. I think it is safe to say he did that for most of his readers. He has changed how I approach reading essays by making me have an open mind when reading his essays. I had to learn to not start one with a closed, narrow mind because it is called an essay. Essays don’t all fill one mold. They don’t all look the same and they shouldn’t. I am now better able to appreciate the variety essay’s can offer.

    Sincerely,
    Kaia Stites

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  21. Jake McCoy says:

    Jake McCoy
    Professor Mike Madigan
    English 1A
    4 November 2021

    Dear Professor Mikey,
    David Sedaris writing style is something that I have personally never read before. It’s all new to me, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. His style goes against what I was taught in school, the whole idea that each essay has to follow a specific format and has to be written a certain way, and if it isn’t, it’s wrong. His style is very free, it breaks out of the restrictions that everyone grew up learning. It’s like he writes like he is living in the moment and not trying to write with the future of the book in mind, he seems to let the book just naturally come together instead of trying to force it. His essays are way more personal than anything else I have ever read. I feel if everyone wrote essay’s in more of a natural flowing format like Sedaris does, instead of the extremely structured format that we grow up learning, more people would actually enjoy to write essays and stories. And I think that if someone is enjoying and having fun with what they are doing, the result always comes out better. Rather than someone hating it and the result reflecting that, and coming out way below their actual potential.

    It seems that David Sedaris’ childhood had great affect on him when it comes to his writing style as a whole. When he was younger he was looked at as different and an outsider. This caused Sedaris to not be able to express how he truly felt and he suppressed his true identity. Being told over and over to follow in the footsteps of family members or to be more masculine definitely would have an effect on someones mental health in their day to day life, and definitely not in a good way. But, after he grew up little bit, he began to find his own voice, and was able to start really being himself, and expressing how he truly felt on subjects. This allowed him to start to step out of the restrictions he had set on him when he was younger, he could really start to push towards what he wanted to do with his life and not what other people wanted him to do with his future. He even expresses how unhealthy it is to live your life trying to live up to other people when he goes on to say, “It’s unrealistic to live your life within such strict parameters,” he is obviously right. Because if he wasn’t then we wouldn’t have these essays because he would’ve stayed in those strict parameters that he spoke on, and would’ve gone on to do what other people wanted him to do instead of going on to what he does today.

    This writing style that Sedaris writes with is pure expression of how he truly feels and felt in the moment when he was experiencing these things happen. This style is so rare in todays world that you never see stuff like this, its refreshing to see someone break out of the “normal” way to do things, and just do what he wants to do and what he simply just enjoys to do. I think this style will inspire a lot of people who don’t like to write essays and express how they feel in their writing to just write what they feel and write what they want and write it how they want, and not have to follow a specific way to do things. I think everyone should read Sedaris’ essays, because I think it will inspire a lot of people who never thought an essay could do something like that. In the future, when writing essays I will push to write in a more natural style like that of Sedaris. I think it will do some good if more people would switch it up and do new things like Sedaris.
    Sincerely,
    Jake McCoy

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Jocelyn Lozano says:

    jocelyn Lozano
    Mike Madigan
    English 1A
    04 November 2021
    Dear professor Madigan,
    I am here to tell you how in my opinion Sedaris changed the definition of an “essay’ as to more of a diary/journal. Sedaris did not focus on his essays being similar through out the story. He even put experiences throughout his life that had no importance or no meaning what so ever. He turned the book in a way where not only was he telling us experiences throughout his life but he would include how he felt and interactions he had during these events.He turns his experiences into something relatable because he adds so much detail to the point that as you are reading you can just imagine exactly what happened during that interaction/event.He experienced so many rough experiences but just as Irby they always try to make the best of it and not let that bring them down and not want to keep on moving forward. I love how both Samantha and Sedaris are very open about their life and not ashamed of their past but used it as a way to keep on going life goes on. Since he beginning of the story it felt as if he was just including you and having a conversation with you through the events. His way of wording certain situations just really helps you truly understand him. For example when I was reading “The Great Leap Forward”, made me relate in so many ways, he was just so open on how sometimes you only take the job because right now you may not have another option but there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
    There where chapters that did not make any sense but in the end all of the “non sense” chapters went really well with the chapters were he really gets into talking about his life. I love being able to relate to stories. I am not a person to read but let me tell you I truly enjoyed reading Irby and Sedaris’s book. Thank you for introducing these books to me, will definitely recommend!

    Thank you,
    jocelyn Lozano

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  23. Steve Navarro says:

    Steve Navarro
    Professor Madigan
    English 1a
    4 November 2021

    Dear Mike Madigan,
    I writing to you to tell you about this amazing author named David Sedaris. His writing style is so unique which makes his essays engaging, and personal. David Sedaris’s writing feels free, and more just like he is writing his thoughts on paper, and sharing them out. When he is writing it seems like he is trying to entertain the reader, and make you laugh. What I was taught was that an essay is supposed to be engaging, formal, and organized, and while Sedaris does do this to an extent he also bends these “rules.”
    While when you take a glance at his writing it does look like a traditional essay is what makes it so unique and new to me is the content. He is straightforward about what he is talking about and doesn’t care if what he writing is appropriate. His essays feel more personal, and you can’t say what he is writing is wrong, because of how personal it is. He isn’t focused on the delivery because since he doesn’t leave anything out it is already clear

    When you are reading his book he tells a lot of jokes and transitions a lot from narrating and people speaking. He shares his story and isn’t focused on the organization, because he isn’t trying to be formal he is trying to just share his story. He goes right into the story in his essays, doesn’t have any real introduction. He doesn’t censor himself he says what he is thinking. He has some places where when he is writing he wants you to know that he is screaming and writes in all caps. You see this in the essay the great leap forward. When he is writing a conversation he has a part where everything is just all capital letters so you know that he is creaming. You also see when he uses a different font in the opening chapter for his s to show how he has a lisp which was a writing style that I have never seen before. It’s a good way for the reader to know about his lisp because it stands out when you read this chapter. He also would misspell words to show he has a lisp for example instead of writing sorry he wrote thorry.

    David Sedaris is more focused on delivering his story in all of his essays. This is something that I realized when reading each essay. I think that you will have a better essay if you focus more on the delivery than the organization. Sedaris’s main focus is to say what he wants, and that makes his writing so unique. I think what also makes his writing very unique is how he has a lot of conversation throughout the book, it feels like he is retelling the story line by line he doesn’t leave any information out which makes a clearer picture in his writing.
    His writing is very personal he shares his thoughts and writes them straight down on paper. He isn’t focused on censoring his writing he is telling you how it is. He also is very good at writing what he imagines is happening. A good example is in the opening essay he compares his Speech therapist to an FBI agent. He has this way with his words that make you laugh his jokes are great, the way he incorporates them into his essay makes his writing that much more unique. He isn’t a traditional writer his unique writing style reminds me of a speaker, and a comedian combined. It feels like he just presented these essays to a group of people and then just wrote them down.

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  24. Trinity Merwin says:

    Trinity Merwin
    Mr. Madigan
    English 1A

    Dear Mikey Madigan,
    Now that we have finished both Irby and Sedaris’ books, I thought that it might be a good idea to reach out to you and dissect what they have done for me. Besides changing the way that I think and view the world in day to day life, they have also influenced my view on the actual writing structure that authors use. For instance, David Sedaris’ book, Me Talk Pretty One Day, has changed the definition of an essay with his writing form and style of essay writing.
    He writes the book as if it is his own personal journal, documenting experiences in his life and what he has taken away from them. I have always thought of essays as a way to communicate one precise topic and message, such as I did in English classes growing up, but Sedaris shows that you can have one very general topic and have short excerpts relating to that. In his book, Sedaris’ general topic is himself and each entry is very different and yet all tie into him and his development. This helped me realize that even when you bring up several different things, the total essay won’t be “messy” if you do it correctly.
    He has also made me realize that I was taught that there is only one correct way to write an essay, but David showed me that this is wrong. There are many different styles that can be effective. For instance, I was always told that it is best to keep the same mood throughout the writing so it doesn’t seem like it is all over the place. However, David’s book has many different moods throughout the story to make each section the most effective and, in my opinion, this strengthens the words that he writes. One entry that specifically stands out that displays this is how he was writing about his fear of getting turned on when sketching a nude model and tells the story in a very different tone than when he is talking about his struggles with his family. I realized that as a reader I appreciated this because my mood changed along with his and it helped me get more invested in what he had to say.
    I’m happy that I have new techniques that I can try and utilize when we write our story for this class and hopefully in other papers as well. I think that by writing more freely than a generic essay David was able to make his book more entertaining and effective to his readers which I want to be able to do with my writing as well.
    Sincerely,
    Trinity Merwin

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Emma Di Coio says:

    Emma Di Coio
    Prof. Madigan
    English 1A
    3 November 2021

    Dear Professor Madigan,
    I wanted to write to you about this really great author, David Sedaris and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his book Me Talk Pretty One Day. Sedaris really evolves the art of essay writing through his anecdotes to really enlighten readers about deeper ideas and connections. With the humor and interesting stories of his past, Sedaris is able to engage the readers and teach them something new.
    In the beginning of the book he writes about his sexuality and how his experiences resulted in different reactions due to this. For example, in his speech therapy class he jokes about the door sign saying “Future Homorsexuals of America ”. Another is when he Continuously is made to feel uncomfortable by his music teacher. His music teacher overly sexualizes the art of playing guitar and makes it very hard for him to feel comfortable learning music as his father wanted him to. This would suggest that he was already aware of his sexual difference at an early age as his avoidance of heterosexual rituals through deliberate misunderstanding makes up many of the punch lines in the second chapter. A prime example of this is when his music teacher asks him to name his instrument and he needs it Oliver instead of an expected girl’s name. His sexuality is brought up a number of times as he refers to his boyfriends and later on even learning a language to be more comfortable living in France with his longtime boyfriend Hugh.
    In Chapter 4, Sedaris brings to light the struggle of feeling inferior and not finding the right path to take. As he moves through different mediums of art and not being able to quickly pick up any of them he loses himself in smoking weed. He moves from weed to meth and brings to light a more serious problem he has faced, drug addiction. He introduces the readers to this in a very nonchalant way, and from his anecdote he tells, this type of drug abuse seems to be common to young artists in that time. Continuing down this path of drugs and conceptual art, he finds difficulty in gaining approval from his mother, making this chapter an insight into the discomfort one has with parental disappointment.
    Following the more serious topics, chapter six also offers a deep lesson in grief and learning to let go in life. As people around him lose animals he parallels this with losing his mother along with lost beloved pets, and replacing the pets with one that resembles a likeness, the chapter presents a strange thing to consider. He sets up the idea of replacing lost loved ones. By displaying the disappointment faced by people who have tried to replace their pets with new ones, he implies that humans are irreplaceable as well. Which seems to be a given to me, but the meaning behind death and the loss, is proven in this chapter to be the cherishing and memorializing of loved ones.
    Jumping to chapter 15, Sedaris talks about the art of learning a language and how the effects of being able to know how to communicate in a different way is rewarding. As he faces abuse from his French teacher, Sedaris plows through and makes the most of the situation by focusing hard on learning the content and taking steps to become fluent. Despite her increasing harshness Sedaris continues to put in extra effort into his assignments. When she finally insults him with “Every day spent with you is like having a cesarean section”(171), he is amazed to find that he understands every word. He makes a show of explaining the intoxicating effects of finally seeing improvement through hard work. He acknowledges that understanding is only a small part of learning a language and steps towards fluency, he still congratulates himself on his hard work.
    Moving on to chapter 22, Sedaris recounts his time in Paris telling readers more about how other countries view Americans offering a rich insight. After returning to his home country, Sedaris realizes that he has never thought about how other countries view the United States. A segment he saw once described a program that gave art museum tours to homeless people attests to the way in which American optimism allows Americans to ignore their privilege. The “American optimism” that characterizes the country’s prevailing sense of positivity that also simultaneously obscures its social disparities. Additionally, he speaks of American stupidity citing signs at the San Diego Zoo that he noticed that seem to point out the most obvious warnings and indicate a cultural proclivity for lawsuits.
    Overall this book offers a lot of meaningful insights as well as being extremely engaging and easy to read. Sedaris makes his essays on each of their topics a sweet blend of seriousness as well as humor, making this book enjoyable to the reader as well as intuitive.

    Best Regards,
    Emma Di Coio

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  26. Shayne turner says:

    Dear Professor Madigan,

    I wanted to write this letter to you today to inform you on how David Sedaris has changed the definition and style of an “essay”. In his book “Me Talk Pretty One Day” Sedaris is basically just writing in his own personal journal. I for one honestly love when authors do it this way but some people may not. Anyways here is why I believe David Sedaris has changed the definition of an “essay”.

    In his book “Me Talk Pretty One Day” Sedaris loves to talk about himself and how each day went with a lot of information and details, and he doesn’t care if it was a good day or a bad day or even an embarrassing day. He wrote about these things so that he could show people who are reading his book that almost everyone goes through the same things and it’s not just you going through it on your own. These books make you want to keep reading because I like to know that I’m not the only one going through what I thought was just me and it’s entertaining to see how their life is so similar and what is different. He also proves how down the road he has ran into things that some people may not have had to struggle with yet and it gives you “the reader” a good sense of what you may have to look forward to. Some people may say he’s just saying what he wants to get us intrigued and to read more but I just think he wants to show us what he’s been through so that we can be more prepared or agree with what he says.

    Now that I have spoken about why he is a great writer and how his books are something I enjoy reading, we can now talk about how he changed the definition of what an essay is written. Everyone that has gone to school has been taught that there is a very strict format for essays and how your supposed to structure them and write them. Always start with a grabber and make sure to end with a conclusion and everything else in the middle but Sedaris doesn’t necessarily do that in his book. He just writes to write and to put it on paper so that people can read his experiences. Also one rule that I’ve ALWAYS heard is to not put to much of your opinion into your writing and take as many examples from the book as you can. Well David Sedaris doesn’t do that. The whole book is about him and what he’s been through and what he’s like. He doesn’t even try to make it seem like it’s someone else’s story and he’s just telling it, and that’s because it’s not anyone else’s story it’s his and he even writes what he is thinking and Donny at that exact moment because he wants us as the reader to understand that this is straight from his life.

    When we first started writing essays and papers for your class professor you told us not to worry about a lot of works cited and a lot of examples from the books and I believe you told us not to worry about that because of Sedaris’s impact and how he has maybe changed your perspective. The more and more I read this book the more I noticed that he is writing the way you have told us to write. From our hearts and in our own writing. He writes everything about himself and what his days have been like and doesn’t leave any details out. His writing style is unique. I see his books as a great way to start a new for of writing for generations and generations to come. People can talk about what they’ve done and what they’ve gone through and not have to worry as much to make sure that it is in “proper” essay format.

    Thank you for reading,
    Shayne Turner

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  27. Taylor Martindale says:

    Taylor Martindale
    Mr. Madigan
    English 1A
    6 November 2021

    Dear Professor Madigan,

    I am reaching out to you to write a letter about the writer David Sedaris most specifically his writing technic. More importantly the meaning of what an essay is to him. Although many books and essays involve life stories Sedaris takes his writing to a different level. He talks about the ups and downs in his life in the most dramatic and indulging way that he knows how. The reader often feels sorry for him which is a way to grab their attention. He wants to engage the reader by immersing them in what he believes to be a “tough life.” He shares painful and debilitating experiences in life such as drug addiction and having to power through speech therapy at a young age.

    He used this pain to rewrite the way that essays work. For instance, Emily Dickinson although she wrote about her life, it was always a meteor, it was shaded by the unknown. Many who have studied her work are still unable to figure it out. Sedaris is straight to the point and uses his journey. Would I recommend this book to a stranger, maybe? I would more than likely recommend it to someone I know. His life story was interesting, the book was well written and I enjoyed the majority of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. jasonrholtz says:

    Jason Holtz
    Mike Madigan
    English 1A
    2 November 2021 ( I posted this earlier, doesn’t seem like it was posted?)

    Dear Mikey

    I hope you are doing well and enjoying this abrupt transition into fall. I write to you in regards to David Sedaris’s, Me Talk Pretty One Day and how it redefines standard essay writing.

    While I am uneasy with stating that Sedaris “completely redefines essay writing”, because all words and their implied meaning are always being redefined in society, I do believe that Sedaris brings new life to essay writing by personalizing a traditionally formal writing style. He uses the essay format to share and discuss various moments throughout his entire life. His use of anecdote is what greatly differs his essay writing from others that I have read ( with the exception of Irby). By being willing to openly share personal experiences his essays have an intimacy that invites and engages the reader on a deeper level than the traditional essay. This is a huge strength in his writing, for with Sedaris like Irby, connecting with the reader on a personal level creates a bond in which complex emotions can be explored without judgment or a need for the author to tell the”truth”.

    Whereas traditional essay writing feels like a means to translate knowledge or an idea to another person Sedaris’s writing is an attempt to translate the feelings and emotions he has of being human. The chapter Remembering My Childhood on the Continent of Africa clearly illustrates the ideological and stylistic difference between these two approaches. Had Sedaris used the traditional approach to writing this piece he would have laid out how his childhood differed from Hugh’s childhood due to their geographic differences and how David glorifies the life of Hugh for its dangerousness, exoticness, for its difference to his. I imagine it to be a boring read about how people fetishize the “other”, particularly people in positions of priviledge to people with less.

    Thankfully, this is not what David does, he does not summarize or intellectualize his life experience into a classic essay. His approach is tasteful, artistic. He uses the very fact that he can recite numerous stories from Hugh’s childhood with detail to illustrate the point that he has a genuine interest, curiosity, love, and respect for Hugh’s lifestory. He lets his action speak louder than his words. He does all this while also investigating why he is doing it. In his final words, David is aware that he also just enjoys a good story and finds pleasure in their retelling. He has an interest in exploring the lives of people, the stories that make a person who they are. What David does to Hugh in this piece is what David has been doing to himself throughout all of his Essays. In a way, I believe that David is showing us that we all stories others will value and yearn to retell, for we all tend to romanticize what we are not.

    I highly recommend going back and rereading this piece if you haven’t recently. I could drop hints to other chapters in order to prove I read the book but I won’t waste your time. This story was by far my favorite in the book and Illustrates the uniqueness in Sedaris’s approach to writing an essay.

    Cheers,
    Jason

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