Saturday, 10 March 2018

Wot I'm reading: Learning French and life lessons

DAVID SEDARIS: Me Talk Pretty One Day

Like me, you may have heard David Sedaris on the radio. He has a voice that's reminiscent of Truman Capote, and his droll observations of our life and times are a joy to listen to. A friend who is also a fan gave me this collection of his journalism for Christ-mas. He looks back frequently to his boy-hood in New York and North Carolina, growing up in a family that sound as if they were created by J.D. Salinger. When a pet dog died he scattered her ashes on the carpet and then hovered her up: ”she’d never expressed any great interest in the outdoors”.

He and his boyfriend Hugh spent a year living in Paris. There are several comic pieces about his French lessons, which were not a success. He eschewed attractions such as the Louvre in favour of seeing movies seven days a week. He likes to pretend he’s a philistine and a nerd, virtually unemployable, but his writing has made him a great success. The articles don’t always sound as witty in print as they do on the radio, but there are quite a few bons mots which again sometimes bring Capote to mind: “I hoped the revolution would not take place during my lifetime. I didn’t want the rich to go away until I could at least briefly join their ranks.” He repudiates Americans’ (well-deserved) reputation for Puritanism: “How prudish can we be when almost everyone I know has engaged in a three-way?

David Sedaris
David and Hugh now live not far from me in mid-Sussex. Wikipedia tells us Sedaris describes them as “the sort of couple who wouldn’t get married.”  David spends some of his time picking up litter (echoes of another famous ex-pat Bill Bryson) and has a garbage truck named after him. He sounds like a fun guy as well as a funny guy.