Reviewer: Helen Jones
David Sedaris was born in in 1956 in Binghamton, New York and grew up in Raleigh, North Caroline. With a Greek Othodox father and protestant mother, he is one of six siblings and it is this family and childhood which form much of the basis of his humour. Known as a writer, satirist and humourist, he has a wildly creative mind which he uses to effect. Sedaris started writing in his twenties and for several years didn’t show them to anyone but came to public attention when the National Public Radio broadcast his essay Santaland Diaries. Many books and essays have followed with millions of copies being sold worldwide.
Standing at a lectern, almost hidden from view, Sedaris uses the evening to read stories from a couple of his books. His first story from his book Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modern Bestiary, is a story of an Irish Setter, but told through the first person as the dog. While undoubtedly clever, and moderately humourous, there is something lacking in being read a story no matter how surreal the subject matter.
This is followed by the story of him trying to keep loggerhead turtle babies in a tank in his bedroom. Once more the humour is clever but an underlying discomfort with the subject matter means that a lot of the humour is lost on this one person. While he admits that at the time animal cruelty was not an issue for most people, it is still uncomfortable to hear of children taking animals home to keep only for them to die.
His third reading comes from a series of short pieces he wrote specifically for American teenagers to learn and use as part of a public speaking contest. Shorter than his other stories, it follows the same style and irreverent look at the subject matter.
He closes the show by reading extracts from his diaries. He started keeping a journal on September 4th 1977 but read some entries from more recent times. These are at least unpublished writings, and are a much better vehicle for his humour, seeming freer than fhe rather more rigid readings of his tales. His observations of people around him, those he meets at signings or those simply watched, are sharp and often cutting, but he can also be very self-deprecating.
David Sedaris is undoubtedly a very clever writer however as an evening’s entertainment, something more than retelling a story would add depth and interest.
Reviewed on 25th March 2013