I recently met David. He was reading as a part of the Drue Heinz Lecture Series at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. He read for two hours, then signed books for at least an hour.

I waited patiently in line to have him sign the copy of Barrel Fever, I was going to give to my grandfather who couldn't come with me. Several spots ahead of me was a woman who was at least seventy and she had a bag with three books in it. Realizing that Sedaris must be tired she apologized to him commenting on how tired his hand must be.

His response was something like, "Oh no! I could go on signing for hours, but that's what happens when you masturbate as much as I do." The woman running the lecture series who was standing next to him, had to prop herself up against one of the columns nearby she was laughing so hard.

When it was my turn, I told him how much I liked Naked, and we discussed what I was studying and I happened to mention that I read his latest story in Esquire. It was about David and his boyfriend going to have their IQ's tested by Mensa in Paris. At the end of the story he finds out that he in fact isn't a genius, he is as his boyfriend put it, "Think donkey, then take it down a few notches." I told him that he can't be that unintelligent, with all his success. He responded with something like, "No. I really am that stupid. Some days I can't believe I get away with being a writer."

David Raymond Sedaris
b. December 26, 1957 (Rochester, New York?)

Son of an IBM employee, David is one of six children, a middle child; he works extensivly with his sister Amy Sedaris (of Strangers With Candy fame) on plays under the name The Talent Family. Story goes that he was "dicovered" by Ira Glass one night at an open mic, reading from "The SantaLand Diaries." Ira was so impressed, that he had David on Morning Edition, and later start doing commentary on This American Life, which he still does from Paris. His essays have been published in Esquire, and The New Yorker. Time named him America's best humorist in 2001.

What do I like about Sedaris? His self-deprecation. His mocking of the middle-class artiste and performance artist. His insistance that he liked cleaning houses for a living. His instance that he hated being an elf at Macy's Santaland. His depictions of life as an American in Paris.

"It was my father's dream that one day the people of the world would be conneced to one another through a network of blocky, refrigerator-size computers, much like those he was helping develop at IBM... When predicting this utopia, he would eventually reach a point where words would fail him. His eyes would widen and sparkle at the thought of this indescribable something more. "I mean, my God," he'd say, "just think about it."

My sisters and I preferred not to. I didn't know about them, but I was hoping the people of the world might be united by something more interesting, like drugs or an armed struggle against the undead. Unfortunately, my father's team won, so computers it is.


About Easter traditions in France, as learned in his French class:

"And who brings the chocolate?" the teacher asked.

"I kenw the word, so I raised my hand, saying, "The rabbit of Easter. He bring the chocolate."

"A rabbit?" The teacher, assuming I'd used the wrong word, positioned her index fingers on hop of her head, wriggling them as though they were ears. "You mean a rabbit rabbit?"

"Well, sure," I said. "He come in the night when one sleep on a bed. With a hand he have a basket and food."

The teacher sighed and shook her head... "Here in France the chocolate is brought by a big bell that flies in from Rome."

...Nothing we said was of any help to the Moroccan student {in trying to explain Easter--both French and American traditions.--AMJ}. A dead man with long hair supposedly living with her father, a leg of lamb served with palm fronds and chocolate; equally confused and disgusted, she ...turned her attention back to the comic book she kept hidden beneath her binder.

--"Jesus Shaves"

Again this morning I got stuck at the Magic Window, which is really boring. I'm supposed to stand around and say, "Step on the Magic Star and you can see Santa!" I said that for a while, and then I started saying, "Step on the Magic Star and you can see Cher!"

* * *

My costume is green. I wear green velvet knickers, a yellow turtleneck, a forest-green velvet smock, and a perky stocking cap decorated with spangles. This is my work uniform.

My elf name is Crumpet. We were allowed to choose our own names and given permission to change htem according to our outlook on the snowy world.

(Later)...Lately I am feeling trollish and have changed my elf name from Crumpet to Blisters. Blisters--I think it's cute.

--SantaLand Diaries

For me, Sedaris dissects life, showing us how absurd reality can be--that truth really can be stranger than fiction. He's gotten me to examine just how odd everyone's life can be--but you have to have talent to translate that to paper.


Plays (with Amy Sedaris):

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