David Sedaris

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David Sedaris
David Sedaris (June 2008).jpg
Sedaris in 2007
BornDavid Raymond Sedaris
(1956-12-26) December 26, 1956 (age 57)
Binghamton, New York
ResidenceWest Sussex, England
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Known forHumorist, comedian, radio contributor, writer
InfluencesLorrie Moore, Alice Munro, Flannery O'Connor, Tobias Wolff, Richard Yates, Kurt Vonnegut[1]
Partner(s)Hugh Hamrick
 
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David Sedaris
David Sedaris (June 2008).jpg
Sedaris in 2007
BornDavid Raymond Sedaris
(1956-12-26) December 26, 1956 (age 57)
Binghamton, New York
ResidenceWest Sussex, England
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Known forHumorist, comedian, radio contributor, writer
InfluencesLorrie Moore, Alice Munro, Flannery O'Connor, Tobias Wolff, Richard Yates, Kurt Vonnegut[1]
Partner(s)Hugh Hamrick

David Raymond Sedaris (born December 26, 1956) is an American Grammy Award-nominated humorist, comedian, author, and radio contributor. He was publicly recognized in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast his essay "SantaLand Diaries." He published his first collection of essays and short stories, Barrel Fever, in 1994. His next five essay collections, Naked (1997), Holidays on Ice (1997), Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000), Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004), and When You Are Engulfed in Flames (2008), became New York Times Best Sellers.[2][3][4][5][6] In 2010, he released a collection of stories, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary.[7][8][9] In 2013, Sedaris released his latest collection of essays, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls.

By 2008 his books had sold seven million copies.[10] Much of Sedaris's humor is autobiographical and self-deprecating, and often concerns his family life, his middle-class upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, Greek heritage, jobs, education, drug use, obsessive behaviors and his life in France, London, and the English South Downs.

Personal life[edit]

Sedaris was born in Binghamton, New York, to Lou, an IBM engineer, and Sharon (née Leonard)[11] Sedaris[12][13] and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is of Greek descent on his father's side.[14] His mother was Protestant and his father is Greek Orthodox.[15]

Sedaris was raised in a suburb of Raleigh. He is the second child of six. His siblings, from oldest to youngest, are Lisa, Gretchen, Amy,[16] Tiffany,[17] and Paul (The Rooster). Tiffany Sedaris died in May 2013.[18] In his teens and twenties, he dabbled in visual and performance art. His lack of success is described in several of his essays. After graduating from Jesse O. Sanderson High School in Raleigh, Sedaris briefly attended Western Carolina University[19] before transferring to and dropping out of Kent State University in 1977. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1983, graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1987. (He did not attend Princeton University, although he spoke fondly of doing so in "What I Learned", a comic baccalaureate address delivered at Princeton in June 2006.[20])

Sedaris currently lives in West Sussex, England, with his longtime partner Hugh Hamrick, who has been mentioned in a number of Sedaris's stories.[21] Sedaris describes them as the "sort of couple who wouldn't get married".[22][23]

Career[edit]

While working odd jobs across Raleigh, Chicago and New York City, Sedaris was discovered in a Chicago club by radio host Ira Glass. Sedaris was reading a diary he has kept since 1977. Glass asked him to appear on his weekly local program, The Wild Room.[24] Sedaris said, "I owe everything to Ira ... My life just changed completely, like someone waved a magic wand."[25] Sedaris's success on The Wild Room led to his National Public Radio debut on December 23, 1992, when he read a radio essay on Morning Edition titled "SantaLand Diaries", which described his purported experiences as an elf at Macy's department store during Christmas in New York.

"SantaLand Diaries" was a success with listeners,[26] and made Sedaris what The New York Times called "a minor phenomenon".[24] He began recording a monthly segment for NPR based on his diary entries, edited and produced by Glass. He signed a two-book deal with Little, Brown and Company.[24] In 1993 he told The New York Times that he was publishing his first book, a collection of stories and essays, and had 70 pages written of his second book, a novel "about a man who keeps a diary and whom Mr. Sedaris described as 'not me, but a lot like me'".[24]

Collections and mainstream success[edit]

In 1994 Sedaris published Barrel Fever, a collection of stories and essays. He became a frequent contributor when Glass began a weekly hour-long PRI/Chicago Public Radio show, This American Life, in 1995. Sedaris began writing essays for Esquire and The New Yorker. In 1997 he published another collection of essays, Naked, which won the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Non-Fiction from Publishing Triangle in 1998.

His next book, Me Talk Pretty One Day, was written mostly in France over seven months and was published in 2000 to "practically unanimous rave reviews".[27] For that book, Sedaris won the 2001 Thurber Prize for American Humor, and was named "Humorist of the Year" by Time magazine.

In April 2001, Variety reported Sedaris had sold the Me Talk Pretty One Day film rights to director Wayne Wang, who was adapting four stories from the book for Columbia Pictures.[16][28] Wang had completed the script and begun casting when Sedaris asked to "get out of it", after he and his sister worried how their family might be portrayed. He wrote about the conversation and its aftermath in the essay "Repeat After Me". Sedaris recounted that Wang was "a real prince ... I didn't want him to be mad at me, but he was so grown up about it. I never saw how it could be turned into a movie anyway."[29]

In 2004 Sedaris published Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, which reached number 1 on The New York Times nonfiction best seller list on June 20, 2004.[5] The audiobook of Dress Your Family, read by Sedaris, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album; the same year, Sedaris was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album for his recording Live at Carnegie Hall. In March 2006, Ira Glass said that Sedaris's next book would be a collection of animal fables;[30] that year, Sedaris included several animal fables in his US book tour, and three of his fables were broadcast on This American Life.

In September 2007, a new Sedaris collection was announced for publication on June 3, 2008.[8] The collection's working title was All the Beauty You Will Ever Need, but Sedaris retitled it Indefinite Leave to Remain and finally settled on the title When You Are Engulfed in Flames.[7][31] Although at least one news source assumed the book would be fables,[8] Sedaris said in October 2007 that the collection might include a "surprisingly brief story about [his] decision to quit smoking ... along with stories about a Polish crybaby, throwing shit in a paraplegic's yard, chimpanzees at a typing school, and people visiting [him] in France."[7]

In December 2008 Sedaris received an honorary doctorate from Binghamton University.[32]

In April 2010, BBC Radio 4 aired Meet David Sedaris, a four-part series of essays which Sedaris read before a live audience.[33] A second series of 6 programmes began airing on BBC Radio 4 Extra on 13 June 2011, with third series beginning on 30 September 2012.[34]

Sedaris released Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, a collection of fables "detailing animals in strange adult situations" on 28 September 2010.[7][8][9]

In July 2011, Sedaris's essay "Chicken Toenails, Anyone?", published in The Guardian[35] garnered some criticism over perceptions that it was insensitive towards China and Chinese culture.[36][37]

A frequent guest of late night US talk show host Craig Ferguson, in April 2012, Sedaris joined Ferguson and the cast of CBS's The Late, Late Show in Scotland for a theme week in and around Ferguson's hometown between Glasgow and Edinburgh. The 5 weeknight episodes aired in May 2012, during the high profile rating sweeps.

On April 23, 2013, Sedaris's ninth book Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls was released.

Veracity of nonfiction work[edit]

In 2007, in an article in The New Republic, Alexander S. Heard stated that much of Sedaris's work is insufficiently factual to justify being marketed as nonfiction.[38] Several published responses to Heard's article argued that Sedaris's readers are aware that his descriptions and stories are intentionally exaggerated and manipulated to maximize comic effect.[39][40]

Subsequently, in the wake of a controversy involving Mike Daisey dramatizing and embellishing his personal experiences at Chinese factories during an excerpt from his theatrical monologue for This American Life, new attention has been paid to the veracity of Sedaris's nonfiction stories. NPR will label stories from Sedaris, such as SantaLand Diaries, as fiction, while This American Life will fact-check stories to the extent that memories and long-ago conversations can be checked.[41] The New Yorker already subjects nonfiction stories written for that magazine to its comprehensive fact-checking policy.[42]

The Talent Family[edit]

Sedaris is also a playwright, having written with his sister, actress Amy Sedaris, several plays under the name "The Talent Family". These include Stump the Host (1993), Stitches (1994), and The Little Frieda Mysteries (1997). All were produced and presented by Meryl Vladimer when she was the artistic director of "the CLUB" at La MaMa, E.T.C. and The Book of Liz (2002) produced by Ania A. Shapiro. Sedaris also co-authored Incident at Cobbler's Knob, which was presented and produced by David Rockwell at the Lincoln Center Festival. Sets for those performances were designed by Sedaris's longtime partner, Hugh Hamrick, who also directed two of them, The Book of Liz and Incident at Cobbler's Knob. Sedaris and his sister Amy shared "The Talent Family" credit on the latter's short-lived sketch comedy show Exit 57 while David was a contributing writer.

Works[edit]

Story and essay collections[edit]

Articles[edit]

The New Yorker[edit]

Sedaris has contributed over 40 essays to The New Yorker magazine and blog,[43] including:

Other articles/Unpublished[edit]

Audio recordings[edit]

Episodes of This American Life featuring Sedaris[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sedaris, David. "Introduction" to Sedaris, David, ed. Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. ISBN 0-7432-7394-X. pp. 1-7.
  2. ^ "BEST SELLERS: April 6, 1997", The New York Times, 1997-04-06. Retrieved on 2007-10-07.
  3. ^ "PAPERBACK BEST SELLERS: December 22, 2002", The New York Times, 2002-12-22. Retrieved on 2007-10-07.
  4. ^ "BEST SELLERS: June 11, 2000", The New York Times, 2000-06-11. Retrieved on 2007-10-07.
  5. ^ a b "BEST SELLERS: June 20, 2004", The New York Times, 2004-06-20. Retrieved on 2007-10-07.
  6. ^ "BEST SELLERS: July 6, 2008", The New York Times, 2008-07-06. Retrieved on 2008-07-01.]
  7. ^ a b c d Hambrick, Greg. "David Sedaris is Taking Notes", Charleston City Paper, 2007-10-03. Retrieved on 2007-10-07.
  8. ^ a b c d Isaac, Mike. "David Sedaris announces new book release", Paste, 2007-09-20. Retrieved on 2007-01-08.
  9. ^ a b Releases worth a bookmark. September 8, 2010. Retrieved on 2010-08-09.
  10. ^ Lyall, Sarah. "What You Read Is What He Is, Sort Of", The New York Times, 2008-06-08. Retrieved on 2008-06-09.
  11. ^ Sedaris, David (2006). "'Dix Hill', p. 90". Naked (1 ed.). London: Abacus. Retrieved September 2, 2010. 
  12. ^ "TNR". 
  13. ^ "TNR". 
  14. ^ ": : a n t o n e l l a g a m b o t t o - b u r k e w e b : : c r i t i q u e : :". 
  15. ^ "Amazon.com: Me Talk Pretty One Day: Books: David Sedaris". 
  16. ^ a b Lafreniere, and Steve "Amy and David Sedaris", Index Magazine, 2001. Retrieved on 2007-10-09.
  17. ^ Moore, Jina. "Sister in a Glass House", The Boston Globe, 2004. Retrieved on 2009-03-24.
  18. ^ Sedaris, David. [ http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/10/28/131028fa_fact_sedaris/ "Now We Are Five: A big family, at the beach"], The New Yorker, 2013. Retrieved on 2013-10-28.
  19. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  20. ^ Sedaris, David. "What I Learned". Newyorker.com. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  21. ^ David Spera, Steven M. Birkland and Todd Hanlon Bright Ideas Design. "David Sedaris - Gay and Lesbian Travel". Passportmagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  22. ^ Schrobsdorff, Susanna (2008-05-29). "David Sedaris on Writing, Reading and Gay Marriage - Newsweek and The Daily Beast". Thedailybeast.com. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  23. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Ramblings, Series 23, David Sedaris". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-03-09. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  24. ^ a b c d Marchese, John. "He Does Radio And Windows", The New York Times, 1993-07-04. Retrieved on 2007-10-07.
  25. ^ St. John, Warren. "Turning Sour Grapes Into a Silk Purse", The New York Times, 2004-06-06. Retrieved on 2007-10-07.
  26. ^ "Sedaris and Crumpet the Elf: A Holiday Tradition", NPR.org. Retrieved on 2007-10-08.
  27. ^ Richards, Linda. "David Sedaris", January Magazine, June 2000. Retrieved on 2007-10-09.
  28. ^ Fleming, Michael. "'Wave' duo pilot cable; Wang's 'Pretty' deal", Variety, 2001-04-05. Retrieved on 2007-10-07.
  29. ^ Tyrangiel, Josh. "10 Questions For David Sedaris", Time, 2004-06-21. Retrieved on 2007-10-07.
  30. ^ Glass, Ira. Chicago Public Radio pledge drive, 2006-03-24.
  31. ^ Why Does David Sedaris Keep Changing the Title of His Book? The Man Himself Explains New York Observer. February 21, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-10-17.
  32. ^ "Binghamton University to hold second Fall commencement". .binghamton.edu. 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  33. ^ "Meet David Sedaris". BBC Radio 4. 
  34. ^ "Meet David Sedaris". BBC Radio 4. 
  35. ^ David Sedaris: Chicken toenails, anyone?, The Guardian, 2011-7-15. Retrieved on 2011-7-30.
  36. ^ Yang, Jeff. "David Sedaris Talks Ugly About China", San Francisco Chronicle, 2011-78-29. Retrieved on 2011-7-30.
  37. ^ O'Connell, Joe (23 July 2011). "Your letters: Tell us what you think". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 January 2012.  Unknown parameter |database= ignored (help)
  38. ^ Heard, Alex. "This American Lie: A midget guitar teacher, a Macy's elf, and the truth about David Sedaris", The New Republic, 2007-03-19. Retrieved on 2008-06-15.
  39. ^ Balk, Alex. "David Sedaris May Sometimes Exaggerate For Effect!", Gawker.com, 2007-03-14. Retrieved on 2007-08-07.
  40. ^ Villalon, Oscar. "Public's taste for nonfiction has publishers playing fast and loose with labels", San Francisco Chronicle, 2007-04-03. Retrieved on 2007-08-07.
  41. ^ Farhi, Paul (2012-05-14). "Style". The Washington Post. 
  42. ^ Lyall, Sarah (2008-06-08). "What You Read Is What He Is, Sort Of". The New York Times. 
  43. ^ "Contributors - David Sedaris". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  44. ^ "This American Life, Episode 3". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  45. ^ "This American Life, Episode 4". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  46. ^ "This American Life, Episode 6". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  47. ^ "This American Life, Episode 23". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  48. ^ "This American Life, Episode 27". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  49. ^ "This American Life, Episode 28". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  50. ^ "This American Life, Episode 35". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  51. ^ "This American Life, Episode 47". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  52. ^ "This American Life, Episode 49". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  53. ^ "This American Life, Episode 52". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  54. ^ "This American Life, Episode 57". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  55. ^ "This American Life, Episode 60". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  56. ^ "This American Life, Episode 67". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  57. ^ "This American Life, Episode 73". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  58. ^ "This American Life, Episode 82". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  59. ^ "This American Life, Episode 87". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  60. ^ "This American Life, Episode 97". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  61. ^ "This American Life, Episode 99". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  62. ^ "This American Life, Episode 104". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  63. ^ "This American Life, Episode 136". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  64. ^ "This American Life, Episode 137". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  65. ^ "This American Life, Episode 141". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  66. ^ "This American Life, Episode 148". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  67. ^ "This American Life, Episode 154". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 

External links[edit]