“Nuit of the Living Dead”

“Oh, I see that you have a little swimming mouse.”

I have to thank Texas Public Radio for sending Keynotes into my inbox this morning with news that David Sedaris is coming to San Antonio.  That brought to mind my all-time favorite short story, ideal for Halloween – “Nuit of the Living Dead” from Sedaris’ Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

Actually, I first read “Nuit,” then titled “The Living Dead,” in a 2004 issue of The New Yorker while waiting at Shag the Salon.  Tears cascaded down my cheeks.  Couldn’t stop laughing long enough to even begin to explain what could possibly be funny about a man attempting to drown a mouse. (Fortunately, Shag is not an ’09 salon where everyone is supposed to pretend they are “normal.”  As though normalcy exists.)

Sedaris will read from his most recent book, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, at Borders in the Quarry Market at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 20.  I feel as though I shouldn’t blog about his appearance in advance because I fear he will attract far more people than can be accommodated and I would like to be able to hear him.  But I guess I was not the only person in San Antonio to receive the Keynotes email.

Have only read a couple of these animal “fables,” including this excerpt relevant to gated communities or the not-so-great wall of the Rio Grande:

Then a squirrel disappeared, and it was decided that something had to be done.  A meeting was convened in the clearing near the big oak, and the hawk, who often flew great distances in search of food, proposed that they build a gate.  “I’ve seen one where the humans live, and it seems to work fairly well.”

“Work how?” asked a muskrat. 

The hawk explained that once the gate was erected, anyone entering the forest would have to stop and identify himself.  “It keeps out the riffraff,” he said, adding that when bad things happened, that was usually who was responsible – riffraff.

Wondering if anyone has read what the squirrel and chipmunk might be up to in the book….  Would it be safe for Parky the Squirrel, the mascot of Friends of the Parks, to show up wearing her tail? 

Heller Mcalpin might have answered that question for me on NPR’s website:

Despite chatty barnyard animals and charming illustrations by Ian Falconer, creator of the Olivia children’s book series, don’t be fooled into thinking this is a children’s book.  Remember the puritanical brouhaha over Maurice Sendak’s naked urchin in In the Night Kitchen and the hen’s egg-shaped bulges in Ron Barrett’s drawings for Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing?   Well, we’ve come a long way, baby:  “The Grieving Owl” features a puckered pink hippopotamus rectum.

Although “The Cat and the Baboon” includes mention of a less-than talented harp-playing squirrel, it gets rather “assy” as well.  Sorry, Parky.  Think you better leave your tail at home and go incognito.

And, when I go to Shag next week, I hope they behave like Sedaris’ hair-grooming baboon:  No matter what I say, just nod and smile and say you remember the swimming mouse well, “the way one must in the service industry.”