Reading Response #2

Select one of the assigned readings this week (either Lamott chapters or  "Our Perfect Summer"  by David Sedaris), and post a 500-word response below. Be sure to also make a comment on a classmate's response for full credit.

25 thoughts on “Reading Response #2

  1. Kelsey

    I thought Lamott’s chapters this week were really relatable. I love how she brings her sense of humor into her writing. You can tell that she is writing her book the same way she would teach one of her workshops. Her broccoli analogy is spot on. Most of us are taught, even if it’s unintentionally, that we need to pipe down or stifle our dreams or creativity. We are taught to be “realistic” at a young age. I know that in my parents’ house it was always about preparing for the “real world” and doing things in a certain way was the only way it worked in the “real world.” I find myself saying these same phrases that my parents would and I’m trying to stop myself, because even if a dream seems fat fetched, I don’t want to stifle my kids’ dreams or creativity. If they think its possible or have the passion for something to work hard at it, then I want them to know that I support it even if it’s non-conforming with the “real world.”

    The KFKD radio station is constantly playing in everyone’s heads I think, but I assume that it would be even worse for creative people or people who make a living out of being artistic, such as writers. Being able to tune it out, even if it is by doing something simple, is the only way to get past it. It’s unfortunate that it is always our insecurities that talk so loud, and so much harder for us to see the things we are good at and do well. I liked her focus on finding a “writing group.” She talks about how helpful it is as a writer to have a small group of people you can share with and trust that they’re going to give you good feedback, but that is so true of everyday life too! Whether it is blood related family or friends, everyone needs a couple people they know they can trust and depend on. Sometimes the only way we can get through tough times is knowing there is someone out there that just has our back.

    I like that so much of her writing can be applied to life outside of writing. When she talks about the criticism at writing workshops, it reminded me of getting through life and the other writers being everyone around us that thinks they deserve an opinion on how we are living our life or the decisions we make. She also describes the jealousy she feels about a friend’s success and how she works past it after trying different tactics. My takeaway from this is how honest she is (she practices what she preaches) and how when you try something, it’s likely that you will have try a different way or a second or third time before you get the outcome that you are wanting. She tried to move past her jealousy in ways that people recommended but none of them worked, and she didn’t figure out how to move past the jealousy until she thought about it for a while, reflected on why she felt that way, and what she felt she needed from the relationship with the friend.

    1. Delaney E Reece

      I really like how you were able to identify and break down the way she describes the broccoli in greater detail, and the specific way you were able to release your own life experience I think that was really interesting important. I also really like how you’re able to relate things that we read in the book to larger life events. The larger connections in the implications that everything she writes about in terms of jealousy, criticism, and intuition or some of the strongest part of her work. I totally agree when you mention the importance of her honesty and her work I think that’s one of the things that makes it so strong.

  2. Tometria Jackson

    The short story told by David Sedaris is sweet on its face and appears to be about nothing more than a middle class American family who gets swept up in the dream of owning a vacation home and suffering the disappointment of reality.

    The underlying story is far more interesting than the white-bread story Sedaris presented. Generally, young children are little parrots; voicing and caring about what their parents care about. The scene in the dry cleaners tells me that Sedaris remembered it because his mother probably made a big deal out of someone having more than they had. The woman alluding to her two homes apparently made an impact on both mother and son because the pair of them repeated her line, “My home, well one of my homes.” dozens of times that day. This tells me that they were materialistic, and aware of where they stood socially compared to others. I mean, what child (who isn’t homeless) cares if a fashionable lady has tow homes? Why should how a stranger lives have any impact on his own sense of prosperity?

    My impression is that the mother was the controlling force in the home, and things must go her way or no way. The time the father booked their vacation reservations and they were housed in a less than accommodating rental was used by the mother as an example of his inadequacy in handling their vacation plans when their daughter was bitten by a bug and had an allergic reaction.

    The children seem to have picked up on their mother’s disdain for their father as well. Sedaris presented him as a cheapskate (driving past the Tastee Freeze to the grocery store for a carton of quick sale ice milk), and a continual source of disappointment for the children. They viewed his promises with suspicion, and they didn’t seem to have confidence that he would follow through on any of them. The fact that the family was able to vacation annually seems to have escaped Sedaris, and he just accepted it as his due.

    When the family appears to be at the brink of buying a second home, Sedaris reveals a tyrannical side of his nature as he gleefully imagines pitting his friends against one another for the chance of vacationing with his family. Again I ask, where does this type of thinking come from in a child? Could he be a product of his environment? At the end of this tale, when it becomes apparent that the purchase of the vacation home won’t go through, the dysfunctional relationship between the parents is revealed as the mother moves from twin beds to a room down the hall.

    I have to agree with the author when he stated that his family had no legitimate claim to self-pity. What’s pitiable is that his family didn’t seem to see all that they did have and appreciate it. Instead, they chose to focus on what they didn’t have and felt the lack.

    1. Courtney Kisner

      I really liked that you called it a “white bread” story on the surface. It truly was disguised as a story of hope, but there were so many underlying issues going on within the family. I also agree that Sedaris and his mother valued material possessions. I feel as though material objects allowed them to travel away from their uncomfortable internal feelings. The mother seemed jealous, and I agree that it did make its way into the nature of the child. There were areas of her personal life she seemed to be lacking, and wanted external validation from her environment (maybe). There was definitely a lot of negativity surrounding the father, and its a good point that maybe he sensed his mother’s disdain for his father. I think what is pitiable is that they were going through issues and chalked it up to not having “enough”. I felt bad that they were always escaping and searching for more.

    2. Lilia Lundquist

      I liked how you compared the children to parrots. I could definitely see that by how they fed off the happenings around them to develop their reactions. I also noted on his “tyrannical side” it caught me off guard as to why a child would think of such a thing to incite chaos amongst other children.

    3. bacouch

      I have to agree with your comment in the beginning . It seems to be a story of disapointment, it also reveals quite the unhealthy realtionship between the mother and the father and the father and alcohol, on the whole he seems like a man who just cannot relax.

  3. Courtney Kisner

    I loved “Our Perfect Summer,” for its simplicity, but also the dark reality that cracked through the surface. The stories of Sedaris’ childhood were chalked with an underlying disappointment, masked by imagination. Imagining something far better than what was truly going on, or a longing for something, anything else, was prevalent. The relationship of Sedaris’ mother and father was not perfect by any means. But they did have times when they pretended it was, like when they were in the process of purchasing the vacation home (which they didn’t end up doing). It seemed they would float into a fantasy all their own and stay there for a bit, only to come back to a reality built on facades. They needed that external ‘thing’ to be happy–they couldn’t manifest happiness on their own. The fact that it is called, “Our Perfect Summer,” also illustrates their desperation for escape. Their vacations were a means of escape, as were the ideas their father put into their heads. They relied on these as vehicles to leave reality behind. The façade of the new summer house they were considering purchasing was perfect at first, but the novelty soon wore off and they soon felt it was not adequate for them to purchase.
    I thought when I read the portion where Sedaris and his sister felt responsible for the weather, it revealed their distorted sense of guilt. But they don’t have that kind of power, and their family’s ‘misfortune’ was never their fault. It was as if they felt if they tried hard enough maybe their parents would be happy, and their father would no longer be dreaming of better places. Their father was an idealist through and through. An idealist with high expectations. When he began seeing flaws in the vacation cottage that he built up in his mind, he began considering other options. Maybe this was one of the sources of tension between him and his wife. I don’t think he intentionally ‘lied’ to his family, he just wanted them to see the visions that he saw, even if he was soon going to tear them down. I loved the image that Sedaris created, “as if carried by a tide, our mother drifted further and further away, first to twin beds and then down the hall to a room decorated with seascapes,” where the mother was the one seeking her escape. The whole piece had a feeling of longing in it. It felt sad, but it was saturated with imagery of beaches and vacation homes, which disguised it as a story of hope.

    1. Kelsey

      I also enjoyed how it was disguised as a story of hope. Judging by the title and as you start to read, you think that you’re going to read about a family and their lovely summer vacations. However, you soon find out that the parents may be casting their negative feelings on to their children and projecting how they feel they don’t have enough, or could be doing better. I think that the father played on the fact that he knew his wife was a bit materialistic and enjoyed getting their hopes up as a game. It’s possible the author cast him more in a villain role, since it seems he identified more with this mother, but it just seems a little cruel the way the father enjoyed playing with their emotions.

    2. Tometria Jackson

      I thought the children’s reaction to the rainy weather was odd as well. Children are naturally narcissistic, and look at things in relation to themselves, but David and his sisters seemed to truly believe that their behavior directly impacted what happened outside. When two of them decided that the other sister was responsible and they punished her by ‘beating’ her, that seemed way over the top. For sure, there were some deep undercurrents in this family!

  4. Delaney E Reece

    For a little over 6 months now I have been integrating mindfulness meditation practice into my everyday life. My personal experience with this practice has been exactly what Lamott describes when talking about guiding yourself and letting your broccoli take you where the story needs to go. In particular, when she says to gently bring yourself back to your work and to focus, that resonates extremely strong with me and I think it relates effectively to her focus on limiting and moving past self-doubt. This is connected to her discussion on what it means to take a deep breath and keep moving, and in that passage, I particularly love her disdain for the idea of just having to breathe and move on. This is something that I struggled with when starting mindfulness, or starting to think about it because I didn’t see the merit in deep breathing and calming yourself from within.
    In addition to this, I really love how she pushes the reader and her classes to reach out for help and ask big questions of big people. I think that the level of attention to detail that she pushes for is very important and brings writing into a realm of reality. This is something that I’ve always tried to do, but I worried that in pushing for everything to be hyper-realistic or hyper-accurate that I would be missing out on other details that would be more important to the story. I think that this idea will help me balance what is an important sweet realistic detail, and what is unnecessary. I also think that by reaching out and asking people these questions, you can learn more things and add greater detail than you ever intended by having these connections with people who have information that you don’t.
    I had never thought insincerity about joining a writing group And sharing work that I had done with other people that I was not extremely close to but the way in which she describes its purpose and its benefits really creates a draw to the idea. The fact that she’s able to create this level of interest is very comforting to me and the idea of moving forward and working on things with others is also very interesting and new.
    I think one of the most engaging ways that Lamott has been able to Engage and draw us as her reader it has to do with her talking about her class. When she talks about her class and your students and what she teaches I can’t help but feel as though I am there with her as well. This type of writing makes the reader feel as though they know the author personally and that they are receiving the story firsthand. In this way, I think the book is a whole has become very personal which is something I have not experienced in a very long time and in a way is very exciting. In work that I do, I would like to be able to engage a reader in the same way that Lamott has been able to engage me.

    1. Shana Waring

      Delaney, I enjoyed reading about your personal attachments to the reading. I thought the message of stopping and simply breathing was extremely important, especially when it comes to writing. The tasks we face in writing can be so daunting when looking at the assignment as a whole. Even more, I appreciated you pointing out the section where Lamott describes having writing groups share their work. This is probably one of the most difficult parts of being a student writer and something most, if not all, of us will struggle with in the class for our workshops. Being able to refer back to the understanding of its difficulty, yet all the growth and success found from Lamott and her students will likely be helpful in this class.

  5. Lilia Lundquist

    While reading David Sedaris’ “Our Perfect Summer,” I was at first expecting the story to be about a lower-class family and their perception of wealthy individuals. The introduction makes fun of the woman with more than one house in a playful sense that I expected to continue. The detail given about the man at the counter and his reactions, along with the tone of the mystery woman’s tone of voice had me immediately hooked. I wanted to know what role this seemingly prestigious woman was going to play. Having finished the story, I could not help but feel slight disappointment. It began making fun of a women who acted in a sense, entitled, to circling around entitled children. The children in the story sound like absolute nightmares. Having beat up one another for no reason besides superstition and the weather. The way the author talked about how he planned to pit his classmates against one another in a competition for his vacation home, made me feel like he was a border line psycho. There was also a sort of forced nostalgia that made me feel like details lacked sentimentality. Like when referring to discount ice cream that was always picked over taste-freeze.
    I did however enjoy the author’s description of his mother and father. I thought the “toast-colored wife and kids” was clever and gave me a good mental picture. The father’s infectious enthusiasm that is passed along to the other members of the family also made me look forward to their purchase of a new beach house. Then having to read about the expiration of the family’s dream made me somewhat upset with the father’s change of mind. I related to this story as I am sure many others have, having created expectations as a child only to have them be crushed. Especially hearing them from a child’s perspective is disheartening. The mother seemed to be somewhat unsatisfied with her life. Looking to the ocean as an outlet from things she did not reveal to her family. While the story was short and sweet, there was a gloomy vibe that made me feel as though the adults in the story were unhappy. The author made it seem as though the children were innocently unaware. The plot sort of gave distraction to this tension and allowed for the lighthearted details to take over. This allowed for an assortment of emotions to be subtlety portrayed.
    Another aspect I appreciated was the descriptive language used to give imagery to the location of the cottages and the town itself. The progression of beauty and nautical style to run down gas stations and highway litter, made me feel as though I was in the car with the family. I did think the bit where they brainstormed cottage name was a bit prolonged. However, it tied in well with the conclusion when the kids, now grown, referred to what could have been theirs. Overall, I enjoyed the story due to how many aspects could have been easily relatable to a variety of audiences.

    1. Jess Young

      “Having finished the story, I could not help but feel slight disappointment.”
      I think Sedaris’ purpose in writing this short story was to make the reader feel disappointed. He wrote of a journey showing glimpses of hope and a happy family with undertones of rotten kids and a marriage fading apart. He started it out on a high note and ended it with reality, much like the “perfect summer” he describes.
      I think your description of the story shows that the author perfectly achieved his intentions.

    2. Kait

      Nice catch, I was so into the story I didn’t catch that the title was a little sarcastic. I agree with you when you say that there are parts of the story that were relatable, whether you’re a kid or an adult. I think everybody goes through that kind of disappointment, that the kids went through of not getting the summer house, at least once in our lives. It reminded me of kids finding out the harsh truth that Santa isn’t real or that your parents were the tooth fairies all along. I like how the author lets you see in different point of view, like the kids deciding which friends would go to their summer house or the father with his ever-changing decisions. I was also disappointed that the family didn’t get the summer house, but coming up with the name did sound fun and it was a funny part of the story like drawing inspiration from the street. In a way, I think this is a very colorful childhood story, with its excitement, love, different personalities, adventure and heartbreak.

  6. Jess Young

    “Our Perfect Summer” by David Sedaris is a deceptively light and easy read, which I imagine derives its name from the fact that it is his last memory of his family being happy. I think most people have a Perfect Summer from their childhood; a time before the reality of life sets in, when you were aware enough of the world to formulate memories, but adequately oblivious so as to not pick up on the stresses of those surrounding. Sedaris captures the “ignorance is bliss” mentality beautifully in his short piece. The reader is aware that Mom is unhappy and Dad is a flake, but the child narrating the story has no idea that anything is wrong or the future will be different than it is at this moment.

    Sedaris’ imagery is exceptional. I felt transported to the time period within the first paragraph as he described the woman in her “light cotton shift patterned with oversize daisies” with matching purse and shoes. I could imagine Raleigh on a summer day in a small-town cleaner in the sixties. My mental image was that of a small store in a coastal town, a two-story walk up with beat up wood floors and dingy windows that let the sun shine through in streaky beams.

    Sedaris alludes to problems within his parent’s marriage from a child’s perspective with subtlety and precision. His mother blames his father for an accident involving his sister which may have been prevented had reservations been made earlier and the family been able to vacation on the beach front. He refers to the “rejuvenating power of real estate” which had the power to breathe life back into a marriage that was fading. Finally, after Sedaris’ father decided not to buy or build a vacation home for his family and instead build a bar in the house they already had, Sedaris describes his mother standing at the edge of the water with a plastic bag on her head and “for the first time in our lives we knew exactly what she was thinking.”

    Conclusively, Sedaris builds the reader up to feel the same disappointment he and his family felt at having gotten their hopes up for a vacation home. Sedaris describes his mother drifting apart from his father over the years from separate beds to separate bedrooms down the hall. He discusses his siblings and their relationship, how as they grew into adults they would check in on the house they almost bought and mourn the future they could have had. Sedaris beautifully captures the moment in his childhood where everything was perfect and when everything changed.

  7. Kait

    In these chapters of Bird by Bird are very relatable in the different ways of the writing process. The index cards were my favorite to read about. Using index cards have a lot of productive uses like remembering a family members birthday next week or how Ann was able to save the description of her memory of visiting her dying friend or how descriptive of the grapes in the vineyard were full of so much detail it made me want to have a bite of some grapes. My friend told me he left a pen and notepad next to his bed to write down anything when he’d wake up and he wrote down a dream where it coincided with the sound of his alarm and he remembered it was his mother’s birthday the next week, so I think her use of index cards are an excellent way to find some details for your writing.
    In the Broccoli chapter, it had very interesting points about how we need to listen to our intuitions and how important it is to use it, so our characters to move on with the plot and be true to who our characters are. After reading about it, it really stuck to me because living in a place so small, there’s so many things that can drown out your intuition. Everyone knows everyones family, some are rivals including some that are related through blood or rumors and “folk-sayings”, it was really nice to read how to quiet those sayings in a very creative and eloquent way. My metaphor for intuition would probably be a dog, leading me to wherever my creative writing wants to go. I used to think great writers didn’t make as many mistakes as I do in my writing, so this chapter about writing a story and letting your plot go this way or the other way is really reassuring.
    The Radio Station KFCKD rings with so much truth, that we all are currently stressed about something whether its bills or thinking about your financial stability, anything that won’t put your mind at ease or help your creative work flow. I’ve always been a worrier, so I can relate to just sitting down, getting right to writing then having to re-concentrate from thinking about anything other than what I’m writing about. Her struggle of her trip to New York is what I would face on my school trips. I slowly learned to love to travel, which I can’t go without now.
    It’s nice how Anne got over her jealousy by being honest instead of forcing herself to be friends with somebody wasn’t intentionally hurting her. It makes sense to me in a way that being friends with somebody you’re jealous of would hurt you even more because you need to act happy for your friend, hiding away you’re jealousy which would make it worse, like boiling a pot of water. The more you try to hide your jealousy, the harder it would get to hide it.

    1. Benjamin Hayward

      What I like most about Lamott’s practical advice is that she is putting a name to an action I am already doing. I feel vindicated by what we read, and the actions I already preformed. It seemed right way to organize myself.

  8. Benjamin Hayward

    I understand Lamott’s example of broccoli being the voice that shouldn’t be ignored. I have someone like that. I call him Troll. I imagine him to be the green painter from the Sims. He was a cheat exploit where you created a troll, lock him in the basement with art, and he made amazing works of art you sold for simolions, the in game currency. Everyone saw this as a silly idea, no one agreed with it, but it worked. I’ve always been someone who didn’t follow trends, broke the mold, I did my own thing. When it comes to writing and creating, I have Troll. I write three times the length of a requirement, knowing troll will come along and erase two-thirds of what I write. What he leaves behind is a completed assignment.

    Lamott writes about KFKD. I never have that issue when it is time to write. I set my objective, then I go about writing it. I don’t have a ritual, I know I am going to drift my attention with ADHD, so I drift between reading the assignment or the objective, and writing. I bounce back and forth, before getting up for something to drink, walking around pondering how to word something, then returning to task. Channeling my mind is like the Gulf Stream she alludes to. The brain wants what the brain wants. My brain wants to get back to playing games, so I need to finish this assignment.

    When I look at the success of my favorite writes, I never ask myself, why can’t I be like them? What do they have that I don’t? I remember a writing class told us to break up the plain when characters speak. Having a constant “he said/she said” is boring, so make the “exclaim” and “dread” what they speak. I analyzed one of my favorite authors books, and guess what I found? I found a lot of “He said/she said”. There is a reason I love the authors I do, not necessarily for the action, or the technology, or the possibilities of the future, but how they string the “little bugs on the pages” together. Thanks, Tarzan.

    I can’t help but think of David Sedaris piece in The New Yorker, “Our Perfect Summer” as a snapshot into 1950’s America. It’s not the station wagon in the article, it’s how the people are described. Describing a woman as “A nice looking woman. Well put together. Classy.” I remember my parents’ house hunting when there were 10 kids in the house. We explored tis one property with 7 bedrooms on three floors. As we explored it, we kids would go claiming a room, as if were ready to move into to it the next day. As the only boy, I got the room in the attic, my own fortress of solitude. It was even shaped like a triangle. I don’t remember if it was the perfect house, or even if it still stands. I do remember when that year ended, my brother died. Not a perfect summer.

  9. Angela Rodriguez

    David Sedaris depicts the joy his family would have each summer at the ocean, until his father enticed the family with the news of their own beach house. This middle-class man tried to offer his family everything they dreamed of and disappointed them in the meantime. Sedaris makes his father out to be an untrustworthy man for not holding up to any of his promises. I find that Sedaris’s father may have been unable to deliver his promises, but he had his heart in the right place when trying to offer his family their dream vacation home.
    The failure to deliver the promised beach house obviously left an impact on each member of the family, specifically Sedaris’s mother. From the start of the story, it was clear that Sedaris’s mother envied an extravagant lifestyle. This is seen when she notices a classy woman talking about owning multiple homes. Sedaris and his mother repeat this line throughout the day. This classy woman was clearly someone Sedaris’s mother wanted to be like. The lifestyle his mother wanted was portrayed when they rented a beach house for vacation each year. She would always reserve the oceanfront beach houses because it provided them with a sense of entitlement. The beach was her happy place and when she had learned that she could get a beach house of her own she was beyond excited. After staying there for a few days, Sedaris’s father had decided that investing in a beach house wasn’t worth the money. This shattered his wife’s dream of owning a vacation home and drove the couple apart. Sedaris’s mother would later move into a separate bedroom from her husband that was beach themed. This series of events shows that Sedaris’s mother was not happy in her middle-class life. She wanted her husband to provide her with luxuries, like her own vacation home, that he was unable to provide. He had even made suggestions to make the family happier such as adding a pool to their own home, but no one approved. I find that in the end, the loss of the vacation home was good for Sedaris and his family.
    Although Sedaris’s father’s promises were never reciprocated, I find that this was for the better. Sedaris was becoming more selfish with the thought of having a vacation home. He admits that he was becoming more demanding and manipulative as people began to like him for the wrong reasons. As he was receiving everything he had ever wanted, he began to think of himself as more powerful. Losing the beach house that was never his made him more resilient and taught him to never get his hopes up. In the future, when opportunities and lavish promises arrived, it is likely that Sedaris appreciated the fortune he was offered rather than taking it for granted.

  10. bacouch

    I have to begin by saying that I thought the overall tone of David Sedaris story was dreary and depressing. In the story his mother truly seems like a lively, lovely young mother who has a gift for engaging with her children. The father is painted as a disappointment and as far as I can tell from the information we as readers are presented with, he is really, if not entirely unpleasant he is definitely manipulative and not grateful for what he has. The father too closely resembles Adam Sandler from the movie “Click” the only difference is, I am unaware of a time traveling remote or of overwhelming repentance at the conclusion of the story. In several places during the movie, Sandler believes he has struck it big through his hard work and has finally made the promotion. It is during these times of false security that he bought new bikes and promised a fun camping trip with his children only to find out that he had been mislead. Eventually he was consumed by a need to succeed so his family could have nice things but along the way he lost his family. I draw many similarities to Sandler as a father and Sedaris’ father, it seems that both men work hard for a meager living and that both men make promises they cannot keep, both men disappoint their families through empty promises as well as manipulation. These cases where fathers become consumed by a need to succeed seem common in modern television. Other examples, though not as relatable include Disney’s Old Dogs, Jungle 2 Jungle, Santa Claus (the first one), Shaggy Dog, among others (Notably a long list of Tim Allen movies to be sure).

    If this story were to teach me anything, it would teach me as a father to not be so regrettable and to truly enjoy what is before me, namely my family. It speaks of dissatisfaction that is created by a sense that they need something else to be happy. A religious authority, Dieter F. Uchtdorf once said, “We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available–all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect”. I believe president Uchtdorf is correct in this quote I also believe that this quote sums up much of the dreary mood created by the story. As it states right in the opening lines of the story that the father always became crabby when they were away from home, the story spoke to me as a critique on the father, an observation about growing up and feeling disappointment over their circumstances in life, but to me I thought that at the very least they had each other, in my family the focus of our lives has a large impact on how we feel about our poverty. We have each other, as they did, in my opinion having a second house is unnecessary and to me a little bit absurd. Anyways I apologize for my ramble and thank you for reading!

  11. Meghan Geary

    The title “Our Perfect Summer” gave me the impression that I would be reading a short story about a families perfect vacation together, and the subtitle below, “One day, it seemed the right time to have a beach house all our own”, reiterated that this would be a happy-go-lucky tale. What I got surprised me, quite pleasantly despite the subject matter. David Sedaris pulled me in with the anecdote about his the woman who said “My home, well, one of my homes” and didn’t lose my attention for the rest of the story. I think I would have been less interested if the title hadn’t mislead me in the beginning, because going in with the conception that it was going to be a light-hearted tale about vacation and then being handed a story about children longing for a father that would keep his promises caught me off guard in a good way. It was much deeper a story than I expected. The way David writes doesn’t spoon feed you character traits and plot details in the typical way which I greatly appreciate. He characterized his father as cheap and distrustful by talking about how “he spoke in the same tone he used when promising ice cream” but then would end up passing the Tastee-Freez and getting them discount ice cream instead. He spoke in that tone to their mother, who also seemed disappointed with their father because of all the broken promises, and him not getting things done the right way, like the reservation. They’re all dissatisfied with his actions. I personally liked this story for that reason- there was a deeper tone and meaning to it beyond just a happy, well off family on vacation. It showed that even families who can live comfortably and go on vacation to the beach have struggles. Even though they had the money for a second home and were disappointed when they didn’t get it (which could be seen as shallow, I suppose), they still had a right to be upset and hang on to that for years to come because broken promises have an immense effect on everyone.
    I really enjoyed Sedaris’s writing style and his imagery. I felt completely immersed in the world he was presenting. The only time I was taken out of that trance was when he used the image “surrounded by his toast-colored wife and children”, because that felt like a really silly image to me. Besides that, he does an amazing job of describing things in a unique way that really draws you in to the story.

    1. Natalee Fleming

      I agree, I definitely judged this book because of its title. I thought “Our Perfect Summer” was going to be this happy little story about a family’s perfect summer. While in the end that ended up not being the case.

  12. Natalee Fleming

    For this week’s reading assignment, I read David Sedaris’s “Our Summer Dream.” I really enjoyed this reading, while I was reading I could really picture everything that David Sedaris was talking about in his story. In the first sentence of his last paragraph, Sedaris talks about how his father made a lot of empty promises after that summer. Empty promises are just one form of disappointment that we can experience throughout our lives. Empty promises are as simple as saying that we will go out and get ice cream but never go to get some without some sort of explanation. Kids cling to those promises adults make to them when you make a promise with a kid they expect you to keep that promise. Therefore, when I’m at work I make as little promises as I can because if I don’t follow through with that promise the kids are no longer going to trust me. Trust is so important to all of us, without trust we won’t have relationships. This is what happened in “Our Perfect Summer” Sedaris’s father kept making these promises, but never followed through with them which caused Sedaris and his siblings not really trust what their father was promising. Sedaris puts it like this “In response he expected us to play the part of an enthusiastic family, but we were unwilling to resume our old roles.” He is pretty much saying that they just started tuning out what their father was promising because they meant nothing to them.

  13. Keyana

    Reading Response #2. “Our perfect summer”

    The reading was themed around a middle class family wanting more and being constantly disappointed by a lying and exaggerating father. I found it very interesting to see how and what people will do to save a shaky marriage.I liked the writer’s use of metaphor and blatant sarcasm. It really painted a picture of being letdown. I think of sociopathic and manipulative behavior from the father. He is initiating the thought and promise of these lavish and exciting opportunities and delivering way less than half of what he actually promised.” In the coming years, our father would continue to promise what he couldn’t deliver, and in time we grew to think of him as an actor auditioning for the role of a benevolent millionaire.”(Our Perfect Summer) The quote left me laughing and imagining the cheesy audition.The reading artfully depicted the general disbelief that people have in a well known liar. Yet he pumps up and exaggerates the promises so hard, that he is able to fool his family more than once before they decided to treat themselves worthy of dignity rather than the dishonesty that he provided on a continual basis. It made me think about many of the times that I had been lied to by a person. The thought that they would repeatedly lie even when I clearly knew the truth. I enjoyed the painting of growth and maturity in the quote ” “What do you say to a new car?” he’d ask.“Who’s up for a cruise to the Greek isles?”In response he expected us to play the part of an enthusiastic family, but we were unwilling to resume our old roles.”(Our perfect summer)

  14. Keyana

    Reading Response #2. “Our perfect summer”

    The reading was themed around a middle-class family wanting more and being constantly disappointed by a lying and exaggerating father. I found it very interesting to see how and what the characters opted to endure to save a shaky marriage. I liked the writer’s use of metaphor and blatant sarcasm. It really painted a picture of being letdown by a poor actor. I think of sociopathic and manipulative behavior from the father. He is initiating the thought and promise of these lavish and exciting opportunities and delivering way less than half of what he actually promised.” In the coming years, our father would continue to promise what he couldn’t deliver, and in time we grew to think of him as an actor auditioning for the role of a benevolent millionaire.” (Our Perfect Summer) The quote left me laughing and imagining the cheesy audition. The reading artfully depicted the general disbelief that people have generally related to encountering a well-known liar. Yet he pumps up and exaggerates the promises so hard, that he is able to fool his family more than once before they decided to treat themselves worthy of dignity rather than the dishonesty that he provided on a continual basis. It made me think about many of the times that I had been lied to by a person. The thought that they would repeatedly lie even when I clearly knew the truth. I enjoyed the painting of growth and maturity in the quote “What do you say to a new car?” he’d ask. “Who’s up for a cruise to the Greek isles? ” In response he expected us to play the part of an enthusiastic family, but we were unwilling to resume our old roles.”(Our perfect summer) The way they described the things he offered, such as ice-cream when its spoiled clearance, a brand new house when he cant afford or go through with it and offers a pool or remodel on the current home. It seems like people think they are better when they have more material or wealth than others. The fantasy of having more than others was the motivating underlining plot and showed a big flaw in human behavior. Hoping that someone would be jealous and maybe happy for you. The idea of having material superiority over people was appealing and made some people feel better than they were doing. They seemed to be unhappy for other reasons. The husband and wife didn’t have a spark in their marriage and had hopes for a turn around using material things to cope with their situation. They thought that getting a new home added 9 months of utility/bliss to their marriage. Why do people thing things are going to help them if they are not happy? They ended up being miserable and separated because the husband was dishonest, and the wife felt the need to be swooned by material goods. I feel like the husband may have been under pressure to make people happy. Maybe he thought the temporary excitement for his pending lies would be enough.

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