On Monday 24 June, the Manchester Waterstones hosted one of my absolutely heroes: David Sedaris. In fact, Sedaris is such an enormous inspiration for me, I haven’t been able to write a Ninjas Of Nonfiction Post about him. He means too much.
I was incredibly excited to see him speak about his new collection of essays, poems, jokes, anecdotes and ephemera: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. I have not read the book yet. I will review it soon!
Seeing him speak was a strange experience. I’ve been listening to him for years, in audiobooks, on This American Life. His voice is incredibly familiar to me. I know the tone and tenor of it, the phrasing and pacing. On Monday night, seeing his voice suddenly embodied, was a strange and wonderful experience. I was in awe for the first few moments.
As a nonfiction writer, David Sedaris mostly engages in memoir and personal essays. His essays are about his life… and these days, it seems, his life is largely about traveling the world promoting his book, and being hilarious about it.
He read a new story called “Easy Tiger,” about how strange Pimsleur’s language tapes can be, how useless in the face of a whole bizarre new culture that you will probably never get. “I can manage,” he writes, “to take a cab and even make small talk with the driver. ‘Do you have children?’ I ask… When he turns it around, as Japanese cabdrivers are inclined to do, I tell him that I have three children, a big boy and two little girls. If Pimsleur included ‘I am a middle-aged homosexual and thus make do with a niece I never see and a very small godson,’ I’d say that. In the meantime, I work with what I have.”
And after the reading, he did a thoughtful, intelligent Q&A. He talked about being an American who lives in England, and how, in the countryside, everyone is just really happy to talk to him about how much they like America and how they went on holiday there once and it was amazing. I think he finds English countryside dwellers very sweet.
He was so friendly and lovely. I can’t wait to read this newest collection.