Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris
I preface this recommendation by saying I am a fool for David Sedaris’s writing. To me, his grocery list could be a best seller. Imagine my delight, then, when Sedaris decided to publish his diaries…and it was thick! I almost had to take a week off from the library to indulge my curiosity. (I do love my summer vacations, so I just stayed up late.)
Theft by Finding, David Sedaris’ newest book, features entries from the diaries he has kept for the last 40 years. A second volume covering 2002-now is forthcoming. Sedaris said he intended to publish a book of his funnier entries, but what his editor suggested was a more chronological arc. There are definitely funny entries, but really much, much more. I have talked with people who read cover to cover (my college roommate, also a librarian), and people who pick it up, flip through, read what catches their eye, and then set Theft down again for a while (my husband.)
David Sedaris was in Portland recently for a reading and book signing at Merrill Auditorium, and I was able to attend. I am more used to readings that you just go to, buy the book and wait in a manageable line for signing, but this was a ticketed event at Merrill Auditorium, and so, under the guise of a birthday gift for my husband, I bought two tickets. It…was…awesome. We laughed, we laughed some more, we were slightly offended. Sedaris delights in some shock value, but enjoys it as if he isn’t responsible for it which I guess is part of the sardonic charm of his writing. After reading a long passage I wouldn’t let my older kids listen to in a million years, he paused, looked at the crowd, and said, “That was filthy!” His language is colorful, and not for the sensitive or delicate, but we knew that walking in, and certainly after the first story. Anyone who has read any of his earlier work knows it too. Despite the sprinkling of coarseness, his observations are clever and spot on, even for someone as different from the author as I am. That in itself is a measure of success to me-that ability to be totally and completely oneself, and share that truth other “selves” can understand. I was a little star struck for the experience of seeing someone I have read so much of in person. He looks like his picture and sounds like his books. Theft By Finding is worth perusing.