Me Talk Pretty One Day is a series of essays written by David Sedaris over the course of his life, beginning with his childhood and into his later years where he moves to Normandy, France unable to speak the language. It is not a typical fiction book in the sense that each story flows into the next, but more of a collection of moments in Sedaris’s life that helped to shape him into the writer and person he is today.

A major theme that is immediate is self-deprecation and insecurity. The first story begins with Sedaris in elementary school being told to see a speech therapist for his lisp. He did not realize that he had a lisp until he was forced to listen to recordings of how he sounded. This is the start of a select few essays centering around intelligence and physical appearance. One titled "Remembering My Childhood on the Continent of Africa", Sedaris not only compares himself physically to his partner Hugh, but also how his childhood was compared to Hugh’s, his partner’s being much more exciting growing up in Africa while Sedaris grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. In “21 Down” and “Smart Guy” Sedaris focuses heavily on his own intelligence compared to others. “21 Down” takes a moment in his life where crossword puzzles are a new obsession and he has trouble doing even the simplest ones. Sedaris continuously compared his self-worth to friends and family. In “Smart Guy” Sedaris and Hugh, in France, go to take an IQ test to see if they qualified for Mensa, an elite group of geniuses. Hugh outscores Sedaris by an extreme amount, being two points away from a genius. Sedaris, on the other hand, compares his IQ score to about the weight of a cat. All of these essays when looked at close together show Sedaris as being insecure and worried about how he will succeed in life as he ages.

Another major theme is drug abuse and addiction. Sedaris is very open in the book, as well as real life, about his addiction to methamphetamine. This struggle took place at a point in his life where art was the center of his priorities. A number of stories focus on drugs and alcohol, one specifically called “Twelve Moments in the Life of an Art”. This story is about Sedaris being a performing artist, and his need to excite his audience, all while fueled by meth. His obsession with drugs and conceptual art propel Sedaris into a downward spiral, mixed with parts of despair. Once he moves to Normandy with Hugh later in life, Sedaris writes about his attempts to live a clean and sober life. By having the life in separate chunks of wins and losses, Sedaris is able to show the evolution of how he feels about himself and life as time goes on.

Some of the best stories in the book were about Sedaris’s multiple odd jobs he did while in Chicago and New York. These range from being a furniture mover to an assistant to a rich hispanic woman. The multiple jobs throughout his life show inconsistency but he also treats the unstable flow of money with a humorous tone, causing a sense of purpose in moving from one place to the next. By enjoying the hectic environments, Sedaris creates a lighthearted feel of his life. The book ends with a story about his own father, a man that saves food for well past its expiration date. He would hide fruits and vegetables in nooks and crannies around the home and Sedaris would find things such as peaches or apples, rotting, to be eaten at a later date. Ending with a story about his close family members ties the book together nicely, and a theme of insecurity and uncertainty is brought back to the most basic foundation of love. It shows that although Sedaris struggled growing up and traveled far, he never forgets who raised him. By not connecting with his father as a child, as evident in the story "Genetic Engineering" that discusses how logical and technical his father made every moment of fun, it shows the progress Sedaris has made as a person. Because these stories focus on such a large time span, the theme of growth is evident.

Overall, the book is a compilation of his life that one theme will not cover, but more an umbrella of themes that exhibit the span of Sedaris’s time as he grows, tied together with the author’s sarcasm and humor, much like the way David Sedaris lives his own life, and why it makes him such a good writer due to the personal nature of the essays.