David Sedaris's offbeat personal essays and narration have long been a favorite. He's aware of his own quirks, and he shares them in such a delightful, self-effacing way. Most of his essay collections have been pure entertainment with a hint of sharp observation that always makes them feel smart. Calypso follows this path, but it's darker and more poignant.
The familiar Sedaris family is aging, and with age comes all the attendant self-reflection and life changes. This plays out differently for each family member and affects their relationships with one another. In this collection, most of the family feel closer to one another than they ever have before, with the exception of Tiffany, whose suicide shadows most of the essays here.
Sedaris' writings on Tiffany's suicide, as well as aging, politics, addiction, and regret, make this essay collection darker and more reflective than many of his previous. He is still dryly funny, and the ability to prompt regular laughter while writing about such serious topics is a particular talent.
Sedaris has been writing about his family for so long that they may start to seem like characters, frozen in time on the pages, rather than real people for whom the years are passing. As Sedaris faces aging--both his own and that of his family--so too do his long-time fans, who know them only through the bits and pieces he chooses to share. I anticipate an ongoing change in tone in the coming years, but I will continue to read and listen for as long as Sedaris is writing.
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David Sedaris returns with his most deeply personal and darkly hilarious book.
If you’ve ever laughed your way through David Sedaris’s cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think you know what you’re getting with Calypso. You’d be wrong.
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 vacatiDavion 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 powers of observation have 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 tumor joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’s darkest and warmest book yet–and it just might be his very best.