Monday, January 31, 2005

David Sedaris

I get so much pleasure from reading and listening to David Sedaris material. It's my "If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only bring one thing" thing. I love all of his books, and listen to him on CD for hours almost every time I make the pilgrimage between my two banking centers.

I recently found an interview on a This American Life archive that is so funny it almost throws me into seizures. I'd never heard it before, but now I've listened to it about six times. So far. Host Ira Glass is in Paris (where Sedaris lives) and they take an afternoon walk around his neighborhood to see the side of Paris that he enjoys. He confesses that he'd lived in Paris for two years at that time and had never been to The Lourve. (Fans would recognize his why-come-all-the-way-to-Paris-and-go-to-the-one-place-where-you-can't-smoke? reasoning.) The interview was recorded around the time he was writing his wildly popular "Me Talk Pretty One Day", which is largely about living in a foreign country and attempting to learn a foreign language. I thought it was funny before, but I've honestly found new appreciation for it since moving to Japan. I can relate to not being able to find the right word for something, so instead having to describe it. (For instance, sometimes on the fly, I'll try to tell someone, "I only understand a little Japanese", but instead it comes out, "The Japanese, it is small when I understand it sometimes.") Early on in the interview, David realizes that he's left his house without a lighter and worries that, if he doesn't find one, he'll have to ask someone on the street for a "stick of fire". I think I really *get* that. At one point in the interview, Ira and David are walking around a Paris flea market, and David stops mid-sentence, gasps a little, and whispers very dramatically, "Oh my God, that's Judge Judy." It's my favorite part of the interview.

About a year before I left the States, I went to a reading of David's. It was one of the coolest things I've done. He draws an interesting crowd, and I remember settling into my seat while waiting for the presentation to start, and feeling an overwhelming sense of: these are my people. From his material one can piece together that Sedaris comes from a crazy family and has a lot of personal hang ups. His writing is so honest that it's often a little painful to read (I feel the same way about Anne Lamott). He's quite vulgar and neurotic and I love it all. Now if I'm ever stuck on a deserted island (which I guess happens to me once or twice every year -- ain't life grand?) you'll know who is keeping me company.

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