Well I’m still working on Madame Bovary, and thankfully it’s getting better as I go on. Maybe I just needed to really attack it in a long reading instead of in short 20 minutes batches to get into the flow. Since I’m not close to finishing it today, I figured I’d post on absolutely unrelated author who I had the good luck see speak a week ago — David Sedaris.
I started reading David Sedaris earlier this year…I had gone to the going-out-of-business sale at Green Apple Books (no no, don’t fret, it wasn’t their main store, just the one where all the second-hand books and music were kept). The books were a buck a pound, so really, how could I not go? San Francisco has loads of book sales where you can end up with awesome stuff. At the more recent Fort Mason sale I ended up with a fantastic books of puns for my very punny friend’s birthday, a signed copy of Ina Coolbrith’s poetry, an old book about Boston with hand illustrations, plus lots of novels for $1 a piece. At the Green Apple sale I ended up with some fun oddities, like Fables of the Irish Intelligentsia, and a couple of other popular titles I’d been wanting to read for a while. One of these was David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day.
I think I had avoided Sedaris’ writing simply because everyone and their mother was recommending it to me…and that doesn’t usually bode well (example: The Da Vinci Code). In this case I was wrong. I loved Me Talk Pretty One Day . I got such a kick out of Sedaris’ quirky sense of humor, and found myself chuckling and chortling out loud while reading alone in my apartment. Since that was a little embarassing, I tried sharing the jokes with my mom, reading aloud bits and pieces over the phone. When I moved on to When You are Engulfed in Flames, I read her a few whole chapters one day when I went home to visit. We were both snickering and guffawing non-stop. When my mom saw that Sedaris was reading at the Opera House, she snapped up tickets and we ventured out to see this human specimen of nonstop hilarity in person.
The show went way beyond my expectations. Sedaris is a great reader (he has lots of Public Radio experience), and his timing, intonation, and expressions made his stories even funnier. The entire audience — a sold-out crowd in the Opera House — was in stitches, giving his stories a boisterously loud laugh track. The material was all unpublished — from new stories about airports and plane travel or about how he hands out travel-size toiletries, medicine, condoms, and other small tokens of appreciation to people that come to his book signing, to jokes and one-liners from his journals about people he’s met on his book tours. Even his answers to random audience questions were filled with silly quips. To top it all off, he seemed nice. We saw him in the lobby before the reading, signing books and cheerfully chatting with people. If he’s coming to your town, definitely book tickets.