David Sedaris Is Not Loving His Early Work

November 16, 2020 | 3 books mentioned 1

On The Maris Review podcast, David Sedaris discusses what it’s like to promote a book during a pandemic and an election, what he wears at his writing desk, and much more. He personally selected the essays included in his greatest hits collection, The Best of Me, and says readers won’t find many examples of his earliest work. “I just see somebody trying so desperately to be funny, it’s just embarrassing to me,” he explains. “I think that’s interesting, too, when somebody says, ‘I really liked that thing you wrote 30 years ago.’ It’s like, gosh, can’t you see the difference between what I wrote last year and what I wrote 30 years ago? And a lot of people can’t. They can’t see the difference. But you know, they’re looking at the story, they’re not looking at the words that make up the story, they’re not noticing that a sentence has rhythm or doesn’t have rhythm. They’re in it for the story.” At the end of his conversation with host Maris Kreizman, Sedaris recommends three books: Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, Halle Butler’s The New Me, and Blake Bailey’s The Splendid Things We Planned

is always reading. She works for Brooklyn Public Library and blogs about books at authorstalker.tumblr.com.

One comment:

  1. How can a writer’s response to a reader saying “I really liked that thing you wrote 30 years ago.” be “It’s like, gosh, can’t you see the difference between what I wrote last year and what I wrote 30 years ago?” Why would a writer think that a reader would lie to them about what works by the writer they like best?

    I think that reader very likely DOES see a difference between what the writer wrote last year and what they wrote 30 years. And, as they say in so many words, they like what the writer wrote 30 years ago. By choosing not to discuss the new work, they admit that they like the old writing BETTER than the new writing.

    David Sedaris may indeed be writing “better” than he did 30 years ago. But what readers want may not be “better” writing, rather they may want to read more of what they already know they like.

    I often thought Sedaris was trying too hard to be funny in his early work, so I stopped reading after a while. If Sedaris thinks he’s doing something different in his more recent work, maybe I will like it more than his early writing. I’ll look around for some.

    But I fully understand readers who may want more of the same from him. And I sort of wonder why he doesn’t.

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