Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"If you read someone else's diary, you get what you deserve." David Sedaris

Once upon a time, a grown man pulled on "green velvet knickers, a yellow turtleneck, a forest-green velvet smock, and a perky stocking cap decorated with spangles" and began the process of transforming himself into Crumpet the Elf. What he couldn't have known at the time was that he was also beginning the process of transforming himself from talented unknown to literary superstar. Day after humiliating day, David Sedaris endured the indignities of working as an elf at Macy's, suffering miserable children and even worse adults. He let the experiences percolate in the twisted coils of his mind, then pressed them through his exquisitely sardonic filter. What poured out was an extraordinarily entertaining diary. One night, in a Chicago club, he read it to an appreciative audience, including, serendipitously, radio host Ira Glass. Glass mined the gold, showcasing Sedaris on his local show The Wild Room. And what happened next was NPR's Christmas gift to the world—in December 1992, Sedaris read his SantaLand Diaries on NPR's Morning Edition. It was love at first listen; he was an instant celebrity, earning a two-book deal and regular appearances in Esquire and The New Yorker. To this day, when he's not busy writing or reading from one of his many best-sellers, he can be heard on Ira Glass's nationally broadcast This American Life.

My husband gave me tickets to Sedaris's recent reading as a gift, and to be honest, I was skeptical. A hundred bucks to listen to someone read a book? The frugal part of my brain was giving the gracious part some serious lip. But as you probably guessed already, he was right. As always. Sedaris may be the most brilliantly funny writer alive, and he's an even better reader. To understand how much better his stories are read in his own voice, ask your partner to rub your back. Then pay the sixty bucks and let an actual massage therapist have at it for an hour. Yeah, that.

I won't sully his words by trying to retell one of his stories, especially not the one about the strawberries and the case of condoms. Instead, I'll just encourage you to treat yourself to an amazing evening if you ever get the chance. In the meantime, a bedtime story for you. Enjoy.


Jomama said...

Oh my. That story you linked to was WILD. Never heard that before.

Anonymous said...

I keep Sedaris books by my bed -- my 12-year old daughter asks me to read either Anne of Green Gables or Sedaris to her at night (mostly Sedaris -- Anne can't compete in the humor department). I did a search on David Sedaris paraplegic and found this site, which has the first two things he read for us. enjoy.