Why I like ?I Like You? and Amy Sedaris Oct 21, 2008
?She?s so weird.? That?s the apt appraisal of Amy Sedaris that my boss uttered recently. I agree: Sedaris is a strange one, and her off-kilter personality is not necessarily for everyone. But, to me, this sister of best-selling humorist David Sedaris is consistently entertaining, often hilarious, and sometimes bizarre?a loveable, loopy-aunt kind of bizarre. Yes, I like Amy Sedaris, and was delighted that my regard is reciprocated in the title of her book, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. But will you like her too? Probably, especially if you?re like the devoted fans, gift shoppers, and happening homemakers who caused this odd book to debut as a top-ten New York Times bestseller. But if you agree that Sedaris is just too weird, you likely know someone else who would love I Like You as a gift.
I Like You is a hospitality book that mirrors Martha Stewart?if the mirror you?re using is in a fun house. Chock full of recipes, entertaining advice, housekeeping hints, and craft projects, this tome could almost double for a publication of that ex-con conqueror of all things domestic. But look closer and you?ll see (in hundreds of full-color photos that could also be from a 1970s issue of Good Housekeeping) that Sedaris is more like ?Martha Stewart on crack,? as she recently described herself while a guest on Stewart?s talk show.
The recipes are comfort food exemplified (mac and cheese, southern-fried chicken) and Betty Crocker satirized (a dinner of cube steak, canned pork-and-beans, and potato salad, with a banana and a glass of champagne). The meals also represent visits to the Sedaris home that produced the likes of Amy and David. You?ll discover dishes like spanakopita and desserts like koulouraki, which are nods to the Sedaris?s Greek heritage. You?ll be able to enjoy the baked Alaska that Amy would request on her birthdays as a young girl (and budding, working-class gourmand). And don?t miss the recipe for red-wine steak butter sauce, which Sedaris?s mother reportedly copied from an issue of Playboy and used for roasts and T-bones.
Food is the predominant feature of I Like You. But there?s so much more packed in among the recipes, and it?s in these sidebars and essays that the queen of quirky really shines through. Sedaris explains her practice of selling the flotsam and jetsam of her apartment to partygoers?everything piled on a card table and priced at a quarter each. She provides beauty tips that range from dying your lips red with cherry-flavored popsicles to ridding yourself of green toenails via a vinegar soak. Sedaris outlines the recommended practice for serving lunch to a lumberjack. She details her devotion to house rabbits, including tips that are helpful to rabbit adopters and humorous to the rest of us, like the following:
"If you have a pet and are going to entertain, it?s important to make sure your home is free of the scent that sometimes accompanies our pets. Nobody wants to deal with an overbearing odor of a litter box just as they sit down to enjoy a Fudgsicle. Make sure that you have allergy medicine (preferably prescribed) in your cabinet just in case a guest is allergic. If a guest does have a reaction and their face puffs up, take advantage and grab a snapshot. You can use the photo along with the caption: 'Have a swell Christmas,' as a card, which you can then send to all your friends during the holidays."
Much of what Sedaris advocates is, of course, a joke?tongue firmly in cheek. While we?re on the subject of bunnies, here?s a good example of belief turned comic relief: ?A rabbit?s droppings are really easy to pick up. I don?t even have to wash my hands afterward and they are a great way to spruce up a salad.? That?s the joy of I Like You: This book is packed with ideas, advice, and recipes you?ll actually find useful, and to get to these utilitarian upsides you?ll encounter strange and truly hilarious asides. It?s a refreshing and entertaining approach to what could otherwise be just another boring recipe recital. Of course, some jokes fall flat, others are a little bawdy for certain readers, and still others leave you scratching your head. But that?s part of the acquired taste for Amy Sedaris, who clearly is her own hostess and humorist; there?s no one else like her. If you like levity with your levelheadedness, you?ll also like I Like You.