It turned out that David Lee Roth and David Sedaris books had enough in common (See David Lee Roth’s instructional venn diagram here) to make some kind of warped sense. I had wanted to read Lady Chatterley’s lover for a while now – it had been sitting on my shelf, waiting patiently while I skimmed over in favour of books with new scandal. I wanted to know what old scandal looked like and I wanted to use the word titillating in a review so I felt that David VS was the perfect opportunity. A comparison with David Sedaris was inevitable really.
Oh boy. Its taken me some soul searching and walking listlessly cleaning the bathroom in studied avoidance to draw anything like a compare and contrast piece around both Davids. Boys! Youse two having nawt in common. After some random googling I found out that. David Sedaris is one of Six kids. Lawrence one of 5. Biggish families. After a week – that was still all I had: Biggish families. The bathroom has never looked whiter. So, here we go with a stab at comparing these two very different Davids:
Ok.. got one. Sedaris is less self deprecating with his earlier work. Me talk pretty one day is still filled with stories of family and his life in college but the stories are tenderer with a love of his childhood self. Clifford and Constance, the married protagonists are upper class and indolent in their seats of relative ease. They have little or no way to understand their inner life, as unable to criticise themselves or dig down deep to see the holes. Lawrence leaves the criticism and negative insight into their inner workings to the narrator in third person and the character of Mellor – the lover in Lady Chatterley’s Lover who seems to have an outsiders insight into why they are such broken people.
Oh god .. here we go… they’re both bloody minded in their arrogance.
Clifford and Constance Chatterley – broke aristocrats. Clifford, wheelchair bound from injuries in WW1 and safe in his seat of minor celebrity as a pithy fiction author with moderate success.
And constance, wanting to squeeze every drop from a dissatisfying life with no way of having children unless she walks outside the marriage. D.H Lawrence to me seems to expoind in the book, the hatred of the upper class and the feeling that his version of animalistic sex and a primitive “simple” life is the only way to be.
Whilst there is a quiet sense of superiority in Sedaris’ work – particularly when he talks about his time as a receptonist for a crazy, rich but miserly older Brazilian patron of artists, prepared to pay for the broke asses of bad painters and beat poets , keeping his head down during the experience shows us he lives and lets live. He kinda “gets” that everyone does life differently.
D.H. Lawrence talks a lot of the cock the ‘cod’ and the cunt. Animalistic sex. Sedaris is the opposite. Sedaris talks around sex. It’s like he only looks through a completely sexless lens at the act and can only refer to it in glib references.
Stirring people up:
DH Lawrence writes in Lady Chatterley’s Lover: “So you see, we are deep sea monsters, and when the lobster walks on mud, he stirs it up for everybody. We must perforce take it philosophically”.Seems to me that Sedaris enjoys a pot .. well a lot of pot. But enjoys stirring a pot too. If it were a race, you have to admit having your book banned so publicly really does give D.H Lawrence the edge with an honourable mention to Sedaris.
Lawrence’s one of the main characters and married to the protagnonist , wheelchair bound Clifford is always in control and master of “the smart guy” approach to the world in his quiet air of moral, class based and intellectual capacity. In essence – he’s boring, self important and implicitly derided as such by Lawrence.
Sedaris is ore avert in his hated of the self proclaimed “Smart Guy”. In Sedaris’ chapter titled as much others around him (mainly his dad) refer to him sarcastically as “Hey Smart Guy”. Sedaris clearly hates the term and contrasts his demure behavious with fellow workers who sweep sawdust and talk about their wasted 130+ IQs. Both authors clearly dislike the “Smart Guy”
Reflections on the culture of the time:
DH Lawrence places Clifford as an observer of culture rather than an an active participant. David Sedaris is an often unwilling participant in the cultural vulgarities of American culture. Whilst the narrative is markedly different, as are the times, the concentration and exposition of the culture of the time are focuses for both artists. Sedaris speaks of a new history, a new country and Lawrence speaks of an old and slow moving history where “The new England blots out the rest”.
DH Lawrence is a sewn up, pent up, het up, tucked in kind of writer, wrapped in his own culture of the 20’s – or rather mummified. I had a hard time drawing any similarities with this one. Lady Chatterly’s lover involved a trial . So did Oscar Wilde .. Ahh Oscy.. Why couldn’t you be a David. Comparison between two modern satirists would be so much easier!
Pace of the book:
LCL is a book that is slow and measured at every point. His description of sexual encounters is very British and poster boy “titilatting”. Sort of like if Benny Hill tried seriously to describe naked wriggling around times. In short, the style has really aged, making the prose a bit nonsensical. Counterpointing Lawrence, the fast paced vignettes Sedaris paints his prose in a fast moving way, with direct moral quandaries and small revelations at every point.
So, time to determine whether the books are likeable or not.
I feel like Sedaris comes up trumps again here. D.H Lawrence clearly adores the “working class” and the natural, almost primal ways of living in favour of the indolent class based existence of Clifford and Connie. he writes well, don’t get me wrong but is the Author and his characters aren’t really likeable. Whilst again, deriding and celebrating the people and culture around him, Sedaris paints a more tender picture which brings him up as the more likeable author with more likeable text
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