David Sedaris comes to Louisiana on book tours. And I want to tell you that right now, because nobody comes to Louisiana on book tours because publishers I guess think that we are stupid and illiterate. If they do come to Louisiana, they only come to New Orleans, but not David Sedaris. David Sedaris has been known to come to Louisiana and go to more than one town. He does it so regularly that I was convinced he must be from Louisiana. Which he’s not. He just comes there on book tours because we are not illiterate and we buy his books just like people in other states.
That is why I have really strong positive feelings for David Sedaris while only liking his books a medium amount.
I read Me Talk Pretty One Day in tenth grade. It was lent me by one of the many book-crazy people in the state of Louisiana, my friend Nezabeth, and I thought parts of it were really funny — like this one story he told about going into a bathroom at a party and finding a huge poop in the toilet and not wanting to leave because he didn’t want people to think he had left a big poop in the toilet and not flushed — because yes, I am predictable and poop stories always make me laugh — and parts of it really stressed me out because I didn’t know what was true and what he was making up.
Many years on, reading Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, I felt exactly the same way. I mightily enjoyed a number of the essays, like the one about obsessively keeping a diary and the one about having his passport stolen and the one about medical and dental care in France. His love for his sisters and for his boyfriend, Hugh, are obvious and touching. I felt fine about all that. It is cool with me that David Sedaris exaggerates for comedic effect the things his dentist said and how many baby turtles he accidentally killed as a child.
What really, really, really stresses me out are the essays that talk smack about his parents. Maybe his parents are awful. Maybe they are great. Maybe he had a happy childhood and these jokes he makes with them about how inadequate his father finds him and how much of a bully his father was are fine with everyone. Maybe they all laugh merrily about it at Sedaris family dinners. Like, probably so, right? Probably he wouldn’t make these jokes if it wasn’t all fine with everyone? Surely? Except when I read some of these essays it kind of feels like kidding on the square, like HA HA HA YOU NEVER REALLY LOVED ME DAD HA HA. But it must be all joke. Not serious at all. Right?
You can see me getting anxious about it before your eyes. I can’t help it. If I said anything remotely negative about any of my sisters in a published essay, I would fret about it extensively and probably end up taking it out and instead saying “Social Sister is a beautiful goddess.” Because, you know, once you’ve written something down you can’t take it back. It’s out there!
And that is how I feel when I read David Sedaris, and is why, in spite of how great it is that he regularly visits Louisiana, I don’t read his books very often.