Book review: "Happy-Go-Lucky", by David Sedaris

HAPPY by David Sedaris Over the past five years, David Sedaris published seven books – two collections of essays; an anthology; two ...


HAPPYby David Sedaris


Over the past five years, David Sedaris published seven books – two collections of essays; an anthology; two newspapers of more than 500 pages each; a visual compendium of logs; and an ebook version of an essay. Can an eponymous fragrance be far in sight? (“Se-bold. For the imp in you. “)

Depending on your perspective, this onslaught — especially since Sedaris likes to revisit scenarios it’s already written about — might feel overly generous or delicious. I fall into the latter camp, partly because “retention” is just a word to me, and partly because I consider the essential trait of a literary classic to be that it is so textured that one can read it again and usually find something new.

Sedaris’ latest collection, “Calypso”, practically destroyed me. Between the stories of his troubled sister Tiffany, who died by suicide, and those of his father, who was reluctantly and abusive towards Sedaris throughout his life, I cried four times. I laughed often and laughed out loud once. Most contemporary comic essayists have honed their powers of self-mockery by lashing out excoriating and sometimes exhausting laser beams, but Sedaris is often willing to apply that same level of scrutiny to other people as well – and to do so without being mean. . For readers, this can be startling, and at times thrilling, and is certainly part of what makes Sedaris’ work such a devious and subversive thrill. Whether retailer how his dad, Lou, liked to eat food he stashed around the house until it rotted, or he went homeless in Portland, Sedaris does without You Can’ settings t Say That like a teenager burning ants with a magnifying glass.

In my favorite type of Sedaris essay – the kind I will continue to re-read – the author takes an unusual or taboo topic, like death or incontinence, then shows us how a cast of flawed characters, including himself , revolve around this subject; but then, in the last paragraph or two, he unleashes an outburst of tenderness or humanity that catches you off guard. Take the offering of the new “Hurricane Season” collection, which, mostly located in the beach homes of Sedaris and her boyfriend Hugh in North Carolina, explains how spending time with our families can cause us to re-examine our relationships. with our partners. Sedaris knows that his siblings are sometimes put off by Hugh: each of them, at some point, has asked Sedaris, “What is his problem?“Hugh, the guardian of manners and tradition among the wild-eyed, pagan Sedarii, is not afraid to break or punish when one of them wears a down coat to the dinner table, or calls his rickety chairs, or gives candy to ants. (Sedaris, the candy-maker, writes: “Gretchen patted my hand. “Don’t listen to Hugh. He doesn’t know. [expletive] to be an ant. “”) But at the end of the essay we find Hugh, after one of his homes and Sedaris was all but destroyed by Hurricane Florence, holed up in the bedroom, sobbing with his face in his hands, trembling shoulders. We learn that three of the homes Hugh grew up in were also destroyed. At such times, Sedaris’ family has no jurisdiction: “They see me being scolded from time to time, being locked up in my house, but where are they in the dark rooms when a close friend dies or rebels storm the embassy?When the wind picks up and the flood waters rise?When you realize you’d give anything to make that other person stop hurting you, if only so he can rip your head off again?”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Book review: "Happy-Go-Lucky", by David Sedaris
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