I always take David Sedaris’ Christmas collection Holidays On Ice off the Sedaris shelf in my bookcase and casually toss it on the coffee table as part of our tradition. My favorite selection is Dinah The Christmas Whore. It still makes me laugh and cry. I have never heard him read aloud. Friends insist it is the only way to experience Sedaris. Something to look forward to. I like to think that I have not had all my fun yet.
With sardonic wit, Sedaris has become one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers. He is the master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition, especially apparent in his latest book, Theft By Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) (2017).
Each of his eleven books was a NY Times bestseller. There are over ten million copies of his books in print and they have been translated into 25 languages.
I don’t recall what brought me to buy the hardback copy of Barrel Fever in 1995. I am not an NPR listener (I like my radio to play Rock ‘n’ Roll, please). I do remember that my husband picked it up first and I heard him crying with laughter as he read straight through it: “Really, I believe this is the funniest thing I have ever read… it is called The Santa Land Diaries, and you have to read it right now, this very minute!” We were off and away in Sedaris-land. I bought each of his next books, in hardcover, on the day they came out; I would dog-ear his pieces in The New Yorker, and I would extend my love if David to his partner, Hugh Hamrick, and his insanely funny sister, Amy Sedaris.
Whether recalling his high school days in Raleigh, North Carolina, or wandering the world from Normandy to Japan with Hugh, he always seems to be able to find a unique voice to the absurdities of life. What is remarkable is his ability to find the humor in situations that are sad, bizarre and tragic.
“My hands tend to be full enough dealing with people who hate me for who I am. Concentrate too hard on the millions of people who hate you for what you are and you’re likely to turn into one of those unkempt, sloppy dressers who sag beneath the weight of the 200 political buttons they wear pinned to their coats and knapsacks.”