After watching David Sedaris plug his book, ‘Squirrel seeks Chipmunk,’ on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, I picked up an entirely different book by him at the library (Our library doesn’t have the most recent, but it did have a collection of some of his works). He was funny and witty and I recognized his name from NPR, though wasn’t sure what he had done. Was he a reporter who moonlighted as an author? Was he a columnist? No clue.
This was a really incredible reading experience for me. The style reminds me of reading individual blog excerpts that are exquisitely written. Each chapter is a personal experience of his, told with the benefit of a discerning hindsight which manages to wipe away pretension, but also brings you uncomfortably close to the truth. The honesty with which he is able to approach a subject is shocking.
It’s one thing to be honest with yourself, accepting those imperfect parts you wish you could change. It is an entirely different animal when you reveal those flaws to complete strangers who will do with them what they wish, changing your character and original intent into something more palatable for themselves. He speaks honestly about his relationships, but also of his family and their interactions with each other. I would not have the guts to reveal such personal and at times, humiliating, experiences. Not for myself, or for others. I am just not that brave.
For example, of his parents, he writes: ‘…and we witnessed what we would later come to recognize as the rejuvenating power of real estate. It’s what fortunate couples turn to when their sex life has faded and they’re too pious for affairs.’
And of relationships, in particular his, he writes: ‘Movie characters might chase each other through the fog or race down the stairs of burning buildings, but that’s for beginners. Real love amounts to withholding the truth, even when you’re offered the perfect opportunity to hurt someone’s feelings.’ (I know all too well what he means and that Hubby has often spared me from a truth he could easily have used as a weapon.)
David Sedaris’ writing is never forced and flows smoothly from one story to the next, gently teaching you lessons about humanity, humility, love and strength. I have a writer crush. It has moved from Mary Roach to David Sedaris. There is a good chance, after I finish my next project- Dorothy Parker will be my next writer obsession, and I will regal people who are busy doing other things (Hubby, to be exact) to listen to passages I find particularly witty.
Until that time, I highly recommend checking out this book. I have a feeling that his other works are all equally wonderful and am looking forward to them. His new book can be found here. If it doesn’t make it to the library soon, I may be forced to buy it myself.