Sedaris step by step

1 06 2019

Calypso by David Sedaris


When he buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, Sedaris envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lounging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at the Sea Section, as he names the vacation home, is exactly as idyllic as he imagined, except for one tiny, vexing realization: it’s impossible to take a vacation from yourself.

With Calypso, Sedaris sets his formidable powers of observation toward middle age and mortality. Make no mistake: these stories are very, very funny – it’s a book that can make you laugh ’til you snort, the way only family can. Sedaris’s writing has never been sharper, and his ability to shock readers into laughter unparalleled. But much of the comedy here is born out of that vertiginous moment when your own body betrays you and you realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future.

This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk and love a good tumour joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’s darkest and warmest book yet – and it just might be his very best.

I feel I’ve come rather late to Sedaris having only started reading (and hearing) him last year (see this previous post) but am trying to make up for lost time. Nevertheless, his latest recordings on Radio 4¬†appear to be his seventh series – I missed the previous six.

So it was a genuine delight to read one of his most recent collections, Calypso, which includes some more anecdotes about his extraordinarily ordinary family and much about holidays at the Sea Section. Then there are the lengths, literally, he goes to in order to get his steps in for the day. Most of these stories are wry, insightful, sharp and amusing. But some are genuinely laugh out loud hilarious. Very good indeed and looking forward to continuing to catch up.


four stars


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