Thursday, March 27, 2014

NON-FICTION | Author Spotlight: David Sedaris


My introduction to David Sedaris took place several years ago when I was taking a creative non-fiction course. As a class, we read one essay, and though I can't recall the essay title at this moment, I consciously bookmarked his name for future reading.

For those of you not familiar with David Sedaris, he is most well known as a humorist essayist. His non-fiction works cover a variety of topics with his family life being a big recurring topic. Once you start reading a couple of his essays you quickly catch onto his sense of humor. For some people, he is not of their taste. But for others, he is adored.

But back to my story...
Last year, I decided to read a work a fiction by Sedaris, Squirrel Meets Chipmunk. Though it was okay, it was at that level of "just okay" that deterred me from immediately reading more of his works.

Despite this, I bought Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls when it came out (2013) and stored it for the future (a bad habit, really). And aside from reading one essay within it, I didn't officially sit down and read the whole thing until a few weeks ago. But once I did, I was hooked.

I read one book after another, after another.
I was a chain smoker, but without the offensive cigarette smoke all over my clothes. Instead, I inhaled and exhaled David Sedaris. I didn't just read the essays once. For my favorites, I read them at least 2-3 times each. And following those, I looked up audio recordings and listened while David read them back to me.

But that quickly concludes my introduction. This will be a short post, but I wanted to discuss a few things:
1. why I fell for David Sedaris,
2. who I think won't enjoy/appreciate David Sedaris, and
3. which of his compilations is my favorite


The man is funny. That is obviously subjective. I've heard people say they can get through a whole book without laughing or smiling once. I, on the other hand, can't through one essay without doing so.

Aside from the humor, I enjoy David's honesty. He openly admits to lapses in judgement/prejudices/etc. He never tries to pretend he's someone he isn't, and it's refreshing. After reading his works, I feel as if I know him better than I ever knew some of my own friends. He inspired me to write my first essay (several years ago) that openly explained some of my past experiences with racism. His essays always have a resonant theme that I love. While my favorite works of his are the non-fiction ones, he reminds me of why symbolism in fiction is so important. In his essays, David will divulge the ugly sides of his family members, the cruelty of his father, the absence of his mother, and the ugly sides of himself. It can be startling, but then he manages to make you laugh. I was completely hooked.


When I don't like works by a particular author but I can see why others like them, rather than it plainly saying "this stuff sucks," I say I "can't appreciate" their works. And I don't find that to be a lie. It's just a different perspective. "Something about my character/life/etc. just doesn't allow me to enjoy his/her works in the way that others do." There are still books that I outright call as being garbage, but then there are those that I just can't appreciate.

That being said, I think there are those of you out there who won't appreciate David Sedaris (or maybe you'll outright call it garbage). Many of his essays appear very random and meaningless. I once read a reviewer of his that claimed he was a writer who just fails at writing a novel, so instead, he writes essays. I don't agree with this claim, but I see where he is coming from. David Sedaris can write about seemingly meaningless topics. In one essay, titled "The Happy Place," David writes about how his father nags him to get a colonoscopy and his first experience in finally getting one. You may think, why would I want to read about that? And you may think that both before and after you read the essay. There is no wrong way to read. But if you read Sedaris, you would be doing yourself a major injustice to not read it with an open mind. His essays always carry some reoccurring image or theme that ties it all together. It is not random. It is not "failure to write to novel."


In Me Talk Pretty One Day Sedaris mainly writes essays about language, whether it be about his attempts to learn french, his experience as a creative writing instructor, etc. And in being someone who loves to read about writing, this was bound to be my favorite. If you want a recommendation for which David Sedaris book to start off with, I would suggest this one.

And that ends my first Author Spotlight!
I hope you enjoyed :)
Thanks for stopping by~


  1. Odd, how I seem to agree with your choice of non-fiction, since it's actually my least-read genre, but there we have it :) I really enjoyed reading him - especially about his silly family! :)
    I even found one of my fave ever (book)quotes in one of his works.
    Thanks for a reminder, will have to look for some more of his books.

    1. Thanks for reading. :)
      What was the quote? (If you remember)

    2. My pleasure. :) Sure, I was "lured" to your blog while it was still polish-related, I especially liked your book-covers-inspired nails, but this is still very much enjoyable. :)

      Yeah, it was this one: " 'The two of you grew apart,' my mother would say. She made it sound as if we'd veered off in different directions, though in fact we had the exact same destination. I just never made it." - it so well captured my feelings at the time. I guess that's one of the ways how I judge a book, if it can offer me such profound thoughts in some parts, while being really funny in others. :)

    3. Ah, yes. I remember stopping upon reading that quote and thinking of all the people in my life that it applied to, and ones that it didn't. Good one.