Ian Falconer illustration for Aesop's The Writer and the Publicist
To help celebrate the return of author David Sedaris to Houston whose most recent book Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary addresses the human condition through the medium of morality tales featuring talking animals and insects, Art Attack brings you a fable by everyone's favorite slave Aesop! We hope that this ancient classic will helpfully place Sedaris' latest work into some kind of historical context:
In a field one summer's day, a grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and dancing to that new Brittney Spears track - and just being really obnoxious. An ant passed by, bitching and moaning, bearing along with great toil several boxes of nose strips, hand lotion, and frozen pizza that he was taking to the humble "ant house" he rented from Tommy the Tree Roach.
The grasshopper said to the ant: "Hey, man, hold up! Let's hang! Why dontcha crack a beer and stay awhile?
"I am helping to lay up food for the winter!" said the ant in his teeny weeny voice. "And recommend you to do the same!" The ant went on the blubber without any prompting from the Grasshopper: "I'm only trying to help you!"
"Winter?" said the grasshopper. "We're in Texas you idiot! And besides, Kroger is a block away from us!" The ant just shook its tiny bead head sadly and went on its way, continuing its under appreciated physical toil comforted only by the knowledge that it (the ant) was smarter than all of its hillbilly bug neighbors.
When the winter came the grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger! Well,,,not "dying" exactly. But one morning it got down to 60 degrees (!) outside and the grasshopper wasn't in the mood for leftover Vietnamese. The grasshopper realized it was a LOT bigger and meaner than some lowly ant with a martyr complex, so after hopping over to the ant's pad, it kicked in the door, and stole all of the frozen pizzas. The end!
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Author, playwright, and spoken word artist David Sedaris isn't interested in moralizing. His not-for-children book Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary (with illustrations by Ian Falconer) features a large "bestiary" of animals acting out some of the less than admirable characteristics that make us, for better or for worse, human. "When you read Aesop's fables, they're so black and white." says Sedaris in a recent interview. "But we don't live in a black and white world anymore. There are more shades of gray, and in this book it's rather the difference between the bad and the horrible that I am interested in."
Not only is Sedaris one of America's great humorists, he is also a gifted performer. No author since Williams S. Burroughs has possessed a speaking voice so identified with their own written words. Not surprisingly, Sedaris gained his early notoriety thanks to recurring appearances on NPR's "Morning Edition" where he recounted his experiences as a Macy's Christmas elf. Fans fell in love with both the voice and the writing. The timbre and timing of Sedaris' delivery somehow makes his more mean spirited lines come across as self-deprecating. For fans of his six New York Times best-selling books who haven't heard him live, or fans of frank, politically incorrect yet emotionally poignant satire, this Houston appearance will be a treat.
Sedaris' books will be available in the Jones Hall lobby thanks to Brazos Bookstore.
On Tuesday, April 19, at 8 p.m. in Jones Hall, the Society for the Performing Arts presents David Sedaris reading new and unpublished works. Ticket prices range from $24-$59 and can be purchased online at www.spahouson.org, by phone at 713-227-4772, or at the courtyard level ticket office at Jones Hall located at 615 Louisiana Street. For groups of 15 or more, call 713-632-8113.