#Longreads: Understanding Owls

by Whitney Kimball on October 26, 2012 Long Reads

Photograph by Richard Barnes, courtesy of the New Yorker

This is why we subscribe to the New Yorker: David Sedaris’s short story “Understanding Owls.”As one can expect from Sedaris, it’s succinct and sweet; a nice break from the art world.

An excerpt:

Does there come a day in every man’s life when he looks around and says to himself, “I’ve got to weed out some of these owls”? I can’t be alone in this, can I? And, of course, you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Therefore you keep the crocheted owl given to you by your second-youngest sister and accidentally on purpose drop the mug that reads “Owl Love You Always” and was sent by someone who clearly never knew you to begin with. I mean, mugs with words on them! Owl cocktail napkins stay, because everyone needs napkins. Ditto the owl candle. Owl trivet: take to the charity shop along with the spool-size Japanese owl that blinks his eyes and softly hoots when you plug him into your computer.

Just when you think you’re making progress, you remember the owl tobacco tin, and the owl tea cozy. Then there are the plates, the coasters, the Christmas ornaments. This is what happens when you tell people you like something. For my sister Amy, that thing was rabbits. When she was in her late thirties, she got one as a pet, and before it had chewed through its first phone cord she’d been given rabbit slippers, rabbit cushions, bowls, refrigerator magnets, you name it. “Really,” she kept insisting, “the live one is enough.” But nothing could stem the tide of crap.

For the full piece, click here. To watch an animated short movie of David Sedaris talking about owls click here.

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