Tag Archives: David Sedaris

Brilliant Bookish Families

Whenever I figure out that two people I adore are related, I feel pangs of jealousy for members of their family. Have you noticed all the talented families out there creating great art?

• Decemberists’ wunderkind (and Montana native!)  Colin Meloy not only has a artistic wife in Carson Ellis, with whom he is releasing a book (Wildwood) this fall—but a gifted sister as well! Recently Maile Meloy wrote a piece for the New York Times called “Reading and Its Rewards,” which linked books with bikes. A winning combination!

• If you’re not familiar with Mark Bittman, he is a New York Times columnist and brilliant food writer. Follow his blog and you will be drooling on yourself regularly—and the best part is, his recipes are usually fairly simple and able to be prepared by those of us who haven’t attended Le Cordon Bleu! His daughter Kate works for The New Yorker, and in June they produced a video together for the magazine about cooking on Father’s Day.

• Perhaps less modest than the other two families, but certainly more amusing, are the Talent FamilyAmy and David Sedaris. Individually they create very different books, David having earned his notoriety by personal essay and Amy coming to books via comedy, first withWigfield and then her breakout title I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. To date they’ve only worked together as the Talent Family once, to write the script for The Book of Liz. Independent projects aside, they often appear in one another’s work: Amy has cameoed in David’s stories and provided voice talent for his audiobook recordings; and David has contributed recipes to Amy, including instructions for the notorious “Fuck-It Bucket.” Even David’s partner Hugh Hamrick contributed endpaper design for Amy’s first book, and usually takes David’s portrait for the back cover of his books.

• The previous families are still alive and working, but the Brontë sisters were another noteworthy bookish family. Writing originally under male pen names, their novels are still considered noteworthy classics of English literature, with compelling stories that continue to enthrall readers more than a century later.

Do you know of any other families where genius runs rampant?


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Top Five David Sedaris Stories

David Sedaris makes me laugh almost as much as his sister Amy, whose book I blogged about last year. Ever since his story “The Santaland Diaries” first aired on This American Life in 1992, he has been the literary darling of NPR.

And it’s no wonder–Sedaris is deliberate about reading his work, taking detailed notes of audience reactions to consistently improve both his writing and delivery. His distinctive voice reminds many of Truman Capote, whose short story “A Christmas Memory” is often performed at theaters paired with “The Santaland Diaries.”

Here are my top five favorite David Sedaris stories. But you don’t have to take my word for it! Click on the story title to listen to David reading each piece himself!

5. “Jesus Shaves (Me Talk Pretty One Day)

At heart, this is a story about culture shock. A class full of international students learning French tries to discuss their different experiences of the same holiday, using limited skills in their new language.

4. “Stadium Pal (Appeared in Esquire)

A wish to accessorize leads David to try out the Stadium Pal, an external catheter/leg bag system.

3. “The Drama Bug (Naked)

“The drama bug strikes hardest with Jews, homosexuals and plump women who wear their hair in bangs.” As a high school theater nerd and Shakespeare-phile, this story makes me blush. Sedaris gets the details spot on, and I never get tired of listening to this piece. In fact, I even make an appearance in this story as David’s friend Lois.

2. “Poems About Dogs (Appeared in Esquire)
[Unfortunately, I can’t find a spot online to listen to David reading this one. If you ever come over to my house though, I have it on CD and I’ll play it for you!]

Sedaris has written a series of jovial poems to share the less glamorous parts of dog ownership with the rest of the world. Or maybe he just hates dogs. Either way, it’s hilaaaarious.

1. “You Can’t Kill the Rooster (Me Talk Pretty One Day)

David’s brother Paul is the star of this story, although Amy makes a cameo as well. Rather than describe it, you just need to experience it with David imitating his brother. Paul operates a website, and Amy’s book I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence includes a recipe for the Fuck-It Bucket.

BONUS TRACK! Billie Holiday
David is fairly well known for his impersonation of Billie Holiday. This is a segment from another great story, “Giant Dreams, Midget Abilities” (Me Talk Pretty One Day). You will never hear the Oscar Meyer jingle the same way again.


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