14 mins


If, like me, you’re obsessed with any of David Sedaris’s bestselling books, including Me Talk Pretty One Day, Naked and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, you may think you know him pretty well. He has never roamed very far from himself when it comes to his material: his family, his partner, the people he meets on the street, and the French have consistently provided him with a rich vein of wry and endearing stories.

There has undoubtedly always been an element of embellishment in these stories, but with the release of his actual diaries, a different Sedaris comes into view.

Beginning in 1977 and running through to 2002, the 528 pages (mined, incidentally, from 164 handwritten journals bigger than the hardback you’ll hold in your hand) follow Sedaris’s journey from his first jobs in Raleigh, North Carolina, through to his move to the New York via Chicago, onwards to France, and finally to England. The book is, as you’d expect, hugely funny, but I also found it to be a very interesting portrait of America’s recent history – it’s fascinating to see how much it has changed and, particularly in relation to race, how much it hasn’t.

On turning the last page, you may be a tad disappointed that such an extended period hasn’t resulted in a few more volumes. I suspect, however, he is acutely aware that not everything he’s ever written is likely to be as interesting or funny as everyone might expect. As he notes in the introduction, while compiling the book he would be heard screaming ‘Will you just shut up!’ at his 2001 self, who seemingly had nothing better to do than drone on about a pocket square.

If you like this, you might also like…

Cheer Up Love

by Susan Calman

(Two Roads)

Susan Calman will be very familiar to viewers of QI, Have I Got News For You and Mock The Week. After training as a lawyer and working on Death Row, Calman decided to pitch it all in and become a stand-up comic. I found Cheer Up Love a hugely honest, engaging if, at times, difficult, account of her battle with depression, which she refers to as the Crab of Hate. Self-harming before being sectioned at 16, Calman details her own personal journey through therapy (and therapists), dispensing useful insights that should provide plenty of food for thought.

Parsnips, Buttered

by Joe Lycett

(Hodder & Stoughton)

I need to be best mates with Joe Lycett, if for no other reason than he is a useful man to have around when you get a parking ticket. His appearance on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown went viral when he described going into battle with a local council after allegedly parking in a taxi rank. Parsnips, Buttered is a variation on that theme, with Lycett (mostly adopting aliases) taking on various different organisations and agencies with pure nonsense in the pursuit of reaction and a decent paper trail. I’m taking this to the beach, and you should too.

This article appears in the 331 Issue of GCN

Click here to view the article in the magazine.
To view other articles in this issue Click here.
If you would like to view other issues of GCN, you can see the full archive here.

This article appears in the 331 Issue of GCN