BookPage Top Pick in Nonfiction, June 2018
If you’re ever stuck in an elevator or airport, just pray for David Sedaris to appear. Time passes quickly with this national treasure of a storyteller.
Reading Calypso, Sedaris’ latest collection of essays, is like settling into a glorious beach vacation with the author, whose parents, siblings and longtime boyfriend, Hugh, feel like old friends to faithful readers. Family gatherings at Sedaris’ North Carolina beach house are featured frequently in this collection of 21 essays, and at the Sea Section (his chosen moniker for his beach house), games of Sorry! become delightfully vicious and the clan gets gleefully nosy when James Comey is said to be renting 12 doors down.
Another favorite topic, not surprisingly, is aging. Sedaris, 61, observes that sometimes life at the beach feels like a Centrum commercial, and soon enough, he and his siblings will join the seniors they see zooming by on golf carts. “How can that be,” he asks, “when only yesterday, on this very same beach, we were children?”
While Sedaris is laugh-out-loud funny in his brilliant, meandering way, it’s his personal reflections that will stay with you. He writes of his sister Tiffany, who killed herself in 2013, admitting that he asked his manager to close the door in her face the last time he saw her. He describes scattering the ashes of his late mother in the Atlantic Ocean, writing, “My mother died in 1991, yet reaching into the bag, touching her remains, essentially throwing her away, was devastating, even after all this time.” Sedaris laments how he and his family never confronted his mother about her drinking, and he worries over the health of his 94-year-old father, who can’t be talked into moving to a retirement home.
Sedaris freely shares all, explaining, “Memory aside, the negative just makes for a better story: the plane was delayed, an infection set in, outlaws arrived and reduced the schoolhouse to ashes. Happiness is harder to put into words.”