BOOK REVIEW: David Sedaris' "Theft By Finding," Truth or Elaboration, Matters Not [PREVIEW]

I’ve been reading David Sedaris’ essays for almost ten years. I vividly remember the first time I cracked open the fresh paperback of Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000) in the fall of my eighth grade year. We’d been told to buy the book for English class that year; and although we never ended up reading it formally, it was probably—in retrospect—the most significant book I read during that school year. I remember plopping down on the scratchy blue-green carpet of my school’s gym lobby and diving straight into his off-kilter world, catching myself laughing out loud in public, and never looking back.
(photo credit: © Ingrid Christie)

Having read any David Sedaris at all seems to put me in the minority of most people my age, making it hard to commiserate and share my enthusiasm with my peers. After all, my generation is not the one who first met Sedaris through listening to the “Santaland Diaries” on NPR; I ended up stealing Naked (1996) and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004) off my parents’ bookshelves before shelling out for the rest of his books. Having been a fan for such a large portion of my life means that getting my hands on Theft By Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) allows me to consolidate his pre-2002 essays with the real-time diary entries that formed their foundations. It’s almost like putting together one of those crime-show suspect boards in my mind as I draw the connections from kernel to finished story, filling in my mental images of his father, mother, and siblings with increasingly fine detail. Certainly it wasn’t possible to know Sedaris only from his stories, but I felt as though I’d gleaned every last scrap of knowledge a mere reader could have gotten, and had begun to understand the man with the pen a little bit...

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