A few weeks ago on twitter I made a bold declaration in relation to Calypso by David Sedaris, his latest book of stories. About halfway through the book, I remembered that I absolutely adore Sedaris’s writing, and I can officially declare him my favourite writer. Yes, you heard me right. After years of dodging this question, never being able to pin down one writer in particular, I can finally say, with confidence, that I have found my favourite author, and that is the genius David Sedaris.
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who DIDN’T like his writing (although feel free to tell me otherwise in the comments!), but I have come across plenty of people who have never heard of him, which shocks and disappoints me all at once. He’s a regular contributor to numerous publications, and he does an enormous amount of touring, but apparently that’s not enough! No matter, I’m such a big fan that I’ll make sure every reader I talk to knows how important it is that they go out and buy one of his books immediately.
A good friend of mine was his publicist for awhile, and she confirmed that he is as wonderful in person as he is on paper, citing the fact that he’ll sign books for hours and talk to every single person in line who sees his shows. Unfortunately, many writers give this up once they hit ‘the big time’, but not him! That alone is a good reason to see him live (I never have, but it’s on my bucket list, you can be sure of that).
So what are the stories in Calypso about? They are surprisingly personal, touching upon subjects such as: his sister’s suicide, his mother’s death, his troubled relationship with his father, and a tumor he had cut out of himself so he could feed it to a special turtle who lived around a vacation home of his. It’s hard to say whether these tales are not embellished, I would guess they’re exaggerated a tiny bit, but who the hell cares when they’re hilarious?
Have I given you enough reasons to seek out everything he’s ever written yet? I’ll leave you with a quote from Calypso to seal the deal. This quote is referring to how confused he is when listening to people under 40 talk about their work:
Theirs are the offices, I imagine, where Kayson rides his scooter down the concrete hallway, passing a warren of workspaces that resembles cages. And no one’s shirt is tucked in. That’s one phrase that won’t be in my English book: “Nice suit.” Twenty years from now they probably won’t be making them anymore. Dressing up will mean wearing the sweatpants without paint on them to your father’s funeral (p. 105).
I’m must say I tried Theft by Finding earlier this year and wasn’t able to finish that (yet) but maybe I should try stories instead of journal entries? I do want to give Sedaris a far go after all!
I haven’t read Theft by Finding yet, but I aboslutely loved this one so i can confidantly recommend it.
A friend lent me “Me Talk Pretty One Day” a few years ago and I still haven’t read it. Have you read it? Would love your encouragement to finally push me over the ledge 🙂
Ok I haven’t read that one either-I still have so many of his to read. But I still confidantly say he’s my favourite author, you should definitely give it a go-what’s the worst that can happen? You disregard my recommendations going forward hahah
I’ll trust ya 🙂 ……. THIS ONCE
I love him too! I haven’t read this collection, but it’s on my bookshelf! Also totally see him in person – it’s 100% true that he’ll talk to everyone who gets in line to meet him. So incredible.
ok for that reason alone i need to see him perform-definitely on my bucket list, I’d be so excited!
Oh dear, I feel so guilty now for never having read anything by him! I had a quick look at his stuff – is everything sort of short pieces about his actual life? Or does he write fiction?
I haven’t read any of his fiction, so I’m not sure it exists. I really think you would like it though FF
I watched the video, which made me realize I’ve never seen a contemporary image of him. I even Googled Sedaris and found a picture of him with dark brown hair and a youthful face pop up first. I read some of Holiday on Ice before I stopped. I’ve enjoyed his writing before, but this particular book, which is one of his early works, was pretty harsh. Here’s what I noted in some updates on Goodreads: “So, I guess in 1997 it was cool to use the word ‘retarded’ in every essay and story.” Then, when I quit, I wrote, “I quit. The stories are racist, fatphobic, xenophobic, and intellectually elitist.” On the other hand, my local civic theater is putting on Santaland Diaries winter 2019 and I do want to see it. The essay has been changed into a script for the stage, so maybe some of the unnecessarily offensive language is cut.
I’ll agree that some of his stuff can be offensive, but only in a mild way. He makes fun of ‘normal’ people way more than minority groups in general I find LOL
Great review! I was thrilled to see another book from him this year, two years in a row! He just might be my favorite author too, I know there’s no other writer who makes me happier. It was a dream come true to see him on tour last year, I hope it comes true for you very soon too!
And about whether the stories are embellished – someone in the audience when I saw him asked him about that. He said how one story in calypso got fact checked by the New Yorker (I think it was them) to the point of them calling a dishwasher repairman in North Carolina, so it seems like he’s not left with TOO much room for exaggeration 🙂
whoa really? That’s so surprising, his family must truly be wacky. Although if you watch interviews with Amy Sedaris, that’ isn’t surprising!
I’m a big fan of Sedaris’s writing and have seen him do his recordings for Radio 4 a few times (I hadn’t heard of him until I accidentally came across one of his radio shows one day and found myself heaving with laughter and then feeling very sad). He has a rubbish van named after him because he spends his free time clearing up rubbish in a village in England.
I read about that story-hilarious! I can’t believe he picks up so much trash, he’s a very busy man indeed.
I’ve read some of his earlier stuff and loved it. Me Talk Pretty One Day is AWESOME. I saw him read and speak a long time ago – maybe 12 year ago, I don’t remember! – and he was hysterical. I haven’t read him in a while, though – I should do so again.
he IS hysterical-reading him was such a joy
Love his way of expressing himself in his books and articles. The one essay I’ll never forget and if you havent read it, you can read now for free is about his experience with the FitBit. If you Google his name and the word Fitbit yoully find it, a New Yorker article and one of his most hilarious.
yes! I think that story is included in this latest collection, he’s such a genius.