Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"Calypso", essays from David Sedaris

This just published collection of essays by Sedaris were all previously published in recent years, primarily in The New Yorker,  but also a few in The Guardian, The Paris Review, Conde Nast Traveler(UK), and Esquire.  As his many followers know, Sedaris has a unique style of viewing the world from a perspective of well written, insightful, at times sardonic, humor.  He has a touch that works and he will say absolutely anything.  There must be a segment of his fans who are closet readers, not necessarily wanting to be associated with his free form publicly but still there.  He appears to be truthful to a fault as on the second page he writes, "Yes, my hair is gray and thinning.  Yes, the washer on my penis has worn out, leaving me to dribble urine long after I've zipped my trousers back up.  But I have two guest rooms."

The effect of his humor in short bursts is what magazines are for.  As a 260 page book it can be a bit overwhelming.  A picture of the last five years of his life is taken in, as well as perspectives on the death of his mother, the suicide of his sister Tiffany, the aging of a father in his 90's, as well as a health problem or two of his own.  Serious events are dealt with in a straightforward way but from his perspective it eventually works as humor.  Central to all of this is his eccentric family, which almost has its own language that shelters them all as they go on.

The book was a nice two day break from the stupid one, but he is still there.  Sedaris writes, "I later learned that what I suffered was called blunt force trauma.  It's remarkably similar to how I felt after the election, as if I'd been slammed against a wall or hit by a car.  Both pains persist --- show no signs, in fact, of ever going away.  The damage is permanent.  I will never be the same as I was before the accident/election."  While his home area of Raleigh, NC, as well as an island village off of the coast in that state, are basic to his existence, Sedaris has for many years had his permanent residence in rural England.  He's lucky again.


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