May of last year, author and humorist David Sedaris released his newest book, “Theft by Finding.” It stood out from the rest of his collections because, rather than a curated list of reflective essays and short stories, Sedaris’ new book offered his journal entries. And as a fan, I didn’t know what to expect by reading “Theft by Finding,” considering that all of his essays are fueled by the words written in 25 years of journaling.
The entries in the book illustrate Sedaris’ life from 1977 to 2002. They depict a darker, more solemn Sedaris as he struggles with addiction, art school, poverty, family issues, and, sincerely, humanity. Sedaris refers to his hobby as more of an obsession, and I agree with him (who else to keep a diary for 25 years?). The man’s known for his explosive pieces, most of them hilariously written with wit and a strong sense of misanthropy; and by reading “Theft by Finding,” I learned of the wizard behind the curtain. Most reviewers rave Sedaris’ quirky writing style, one where he finds the comedy behind mundane, insufferable human behavior — and it’s all shown in his diaries. For reasons unbeknownst to any of us, he opened a window to his psyche by publishing “Theft by Finding.” Before reading it, I always saw Sedaris as terribly bitter, but in a funny, relatable sort of way. You read his books and pick up on a troubled man’s history — but you’d never know just how troubled until you read from his journals.
Not to say that “Theft by Finding” wasn’t funny, because it was great! It’s a different kind of humor: less polished, more candid. And I’d recommend it to anybody who enjoys David Sedaris and otherwise. Although, the thing that’s keeping me inquisitive about his next book, “Calypso,” is Sedaris’ new demeanor. To be released on May 29, “Calypso” appears to be his darkest book yet. The collection’s blurb describes it as an exploration of “middle age and mortality.” I heard two of the book’s essays when I went to one of his reading shows last year, and they both depicted this different persona Sedaris introduced with “Theft by Finding.” He continues to be unabashedly himself, and I’m sure he’ll keep using humor to uncover the tragedy of the human experience — which is why I look forward to this new kind of work.
I already pre-ordered the book and as soon as May 29 comes around, I’ll get to further experience this new epoch of David Sedaris. Perhaps with “Calypso,” Sedaris will delve deeper into how hilarious mortality is and how existentialism, decaying relationships, and all that entails growing older can just be comedy gold. As a 22-year-old, Sedaris will probably force me to envision a tricky relationship with my own aging; but as a reader, I’m excited to see how someone else’s desperation, in this case Sedaris’, can be his funniest, sharpest read yet.