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David Sedaris

Author of Me Talk Pretty One Day

62+ Works 85,345 Members 1,839 Reviews 582 Favorited

About the Author

David Sedaris was born in Binghamton, New York on December 26, 1956, but he grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. Much of Sedaris' humor is autobiographical and self-deprecating, and it often concerns his family life, his middle class upbringing in the suburbs of North Carolina. He graduated from the show more Art Institute of Chicago in 1987. He is a popular radio commentator, essayist, and short story writer. He held many part-time and odd jobs before getting a job reading excerpts from his diaries on National Public Radio in 1992. His first collection of essays and short stories, Barrel Fever, was published in 1994. His other works include Naked, Holidays on Ice, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002), and Calypso. Me Talk Pretty One Day won the Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2001. He has also written several plays with his sister Amy Sedaris including Stump the Host, Stitches, and The Little Frieda Mysteries. In 2014 her title, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, made The New York Times Best Seller List. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Oliver DelaCruz, November 19, 2005


Works by David Sedaris

Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000) 21,223 copies, 371 reviews
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004) 13,326 copies, 194 reviews
Naked (1997) 12,384 copies, 121 reviews
When You Are Engulfed in Flames (2008) — Narrator, some editions — 9,219 copies, 267 reviews
Holidays on Ice: Stories (1997) 7,643 copies, 194 reviews
Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays (1994) 5,464 copies, 65 reviews
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls (2013) 3,533 copies, 162 reviews
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (2010) 3,416 copies, 168 reviews
Calypso (2018) 2,344 copies, 115 reviews
Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) (2017) 1,491 copies, 56 reviews
Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules (2005) — Editor; Introduction — 1,228 copies, 14 reviews
SantaLand Diaries (1998) 695 copies, 13 reviews
Happy-Go-Lucky (2022) 673 copies, 22 reviews
The Best of Me (2020) 670 copies, 16 reviews
A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020) (2021) 508 copies, 14 reviews
David Sedaris Live at Carnegie Hall (2003) 353 copies, 11 reviews
The Book of Liz (2002) 278 copies, 1 review
The David Sedaris Box Set (2000) 135 copies, 1 review
Themes and Variations (2020) 127 copies, 6 reviews
David Sedaris Diaries: A Visual Compendium (2017) 79 copies, 3 reviews
Van je familie moet je het hebben (2010) 78 copies, 5 reviews
Me Talk Pretty One Day [abridged] (2001) 72 copies, 6 reviews
Naked [abridged] (2001) 61 copies, 4 reviews
The Ultimate David Sedaris (2006) 36 copies, 1 review
Pretty Ugly (TOON Books) (2024) 32 copies, 4 reviews
Hundeleben (2002) 4 copies
Do I Sound Gay? 2 copies
Two Classic Stories (2014) 2 copies
Estoy bien (2024) 2 copies
Bitte lächeln! (2023) 1 copy
Letting Go 1 copy
Karácsony jéggel (2004) 1 copy
Farm 1 copy
NPR Holiday Favorites (2009) 1 copy

Associated Works

Lincoln in the Bardo (2017) — Narrator, some editions — 5,927 copies, 340 reviews
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 (2003) — Contributor — 751 copies, 11 reviews
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004 (2004) — Contributor — 744 copies, 6 reviews
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002 (2002) — Contributor — 600 copies, 3 reviews
Jenny and the Jaws of Life: Short Stories (1987) — Foreword, some editions — 374 copies, 4 reviews
The Best American Essays 2005 (2005) — Contributor — 344 copies, 1 review
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010 (2010) — Introduction — 306 copies, 8 reviews
The Best American Essays 2008 (2008) — Contributor — 290 copies, 4 reviews
Not So Funny When It Happened: The Best of Travel Humor and Misadventure (2000) — Contributor — 236 copies, 6 reviews
The Best American Essays 2010 (2010) — Contributor — 227 copies, 7 reviews
Paris Was Ours (2011) — Contributor — 227 copies, 9 reviews
Strange Stories for Strange Kids (2001) — Contributor — 214 copies, 4 reviews
The Best American Travel Writing 2008 (2008) — Contributor — 211 copies
The Best American Travel Writing 2006 (2006) — Contributor — 206 copies, 1 review
This Is NPR: The First Forty Years (2010) — Contributor — 192 copies, 2 reviews
The Best American Travel Writing 2002 (2002) — Contributor — 190 copies
This Is My Best: Great Writers Share Their Favorite Work (2004) — Contributor — 163 copies, 3 reviews
The Best American Travel Writing 2010 (2010) — Contributor — 101 copies, 6 reviews
Man of My Dreams: Provocative Writing on Men Loving Men (1996) — Contributor — 78 copies
Best Food Writing 2001 (2001) — Contributor — 66 copies
Brothers (1999) — Contributor — 21 copies
The Best Australian Essays 2009 (2009) — Contributor — 21 copies
Brothers: 26 Stories of Love and Rivalry (2009) — Contributor — 16 copies
Every True Pleasure: LGBTQ Tales of North Carolina (2019) — Contributor — 9 copies


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Common Knowledge

Legal name
Sedaris, David Raymond
Johnson City, New York, USA
Places of residence
Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
New York, New York, USA
Paris, France
London, England, UK
Rackham, West Sussex, England, UK
Kent State University
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (BA|1987)
Sedaris, Amy (sister)
Hamrick, Hugh (partner)
New Yorker
Awards and honors
Honorary Doctorate (Binghamton University, 2008)
American Academy of Arts and Letters (2019)
Terry Southern Prize for Humor (2018)
Thurber Prize for American Humor (2001)
Jonathan Swift Internationaler Literaturpreis für Satire und Humor (2019)
Time Humorist of the Year Award (2001) (show all 7)
American Academy of Arts and Letters Medal for Spoken Language (2018)
Steven Barclay Agency
Short biography
David Raymond Sedaris (born December 26, 1956) is an American humorist, comedian, author, and radio contributor. He was publicly recognized in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast his essay "Santaland Diaries". He published his first collection of essays and short stories, Barrel Fever, in 1994. He is the brother and writing collaborator of actor Amy Sedaris.

Much of Sedaris's humor is ostensibly autobiographical and self-deprecating and often concerns his family life, his middle-class upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, his Greek heritage, homosexuality, jobs, education, drug use, and obsessive behaviors, and his life in France, London, and the English South Downs



Well written and funny, I will say this is a great book and my introduction to David Sedaris. I’m not sure whether my attention wasn’t quite where it should have been, or if his style just isn’t my thing, but I wasn’t captivated. Still though, I’d recommend it to a friend.
illarai | 15 other reviews | Jun 26, 2024 |
I know I am very late to the party on David Sedaris, as this is the first one of his I’ve ever read. And I know that people seem to really enjoy his books, but I just didn’t. There were a couple of decent moments, but they were neither laugh out loud nor darkly ironic like I expected them to be. I have another of his to read, but I’m not sure I will. Just not my cup of tea.
snewell2 | 370 other reviews | Jun 24, 2024 |
I was excited to read this book but I was disappointed. It was not that funny. Will go to a different author for humor. Some of it produced a "Ha Ha" from, but a lot of it felt too snarky for my taste. Will be my last book by David Sedaris. I read it all, hoping for improvement but it never improved.
Carolee888 | 161 other reviews | Jun 13, 2024 |
Hard to believe, but Happy-Go-Lucky is my sixth book by David Sedaris. I've listened to all of them on audiobook and I just love his sing song rhythm of reflection and storytelling. After a while, I find myself yearning to hear more of his stories and this time - thankfully - I wasn't disappointed.

I've acknowledged in previous reviews that David's white privilege is on full display but it doesn't get under my skin in the same way it does - or has - for other readers. We already know he's white and wealthy and gay, so taking offence with his privilege isn't quite fair. What other lived experience can he offer?

My key takeaway from listening to Happy-Go-Lucky was a chapter called A Speech to the Graduates which comprised a commencement address Sedaris gave to graduates at Oberlin College. Recorded in 2018, you can watch it online for free. I found the speech so entertaining I listened to it twice and asked my husband to listen to it with me. If asked to choose between Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman (a renowned speech to graduates if there ever was one) and this one, I'd be hard pressed to choose between them. They're completely dissimilar in style, but what they share in common is an ability to inspire young listeners to take risks, make mistakes and make the most of life.

The chapter entitled Active Shooter documents the author's experience going to a firing range for the first time with his sister Lisa.

"This was a niche market I knew nothing about until I returned to Lisa's house later that day and went online. There I found websites selling gun concealment vests, t-shirts, jackets you name it. One company makes boxer briefs with a holster in the back which they call compression concealment shorts, but which I would call gunderpants." Chapter: Active Shooter

As he mentions in his speech to the graduates, Sedaris recommends the practice of having a few jokes up your sleeve at any given time. In a chapter entitled Themes and Variations, the author proceeds to tell some of the best jokes he's heard from fans on book signing tours which had me laughing out loud and often. The two most memorable included a snail's reaction and two priests in a car, while the anecdote offered regarding two rolling pins and falling down the stairs had me laughing so hard I was red-faced with tears streaming down my face.

Sedaris always manages to deliver both light and dark and in Happy-Go-Lucky he bravely discloses his father's declining health, surprising personality changes and eventual death:

"... our natures, I have just recently learned from my father, can change. Or maybe they're simply revealed, and the dear cheerful man I saw that afternoon at Springmore was there all along, smothered in layers of rage and impatience that burned away as he blazed into the home stretch." Chapter: Happy-Go-Lucky

Sedaris has previously written about living in France and learning the language, and in this offering published in 2022, he remembers what it was like during his first few visits, smiling and pretending to know what was going on.

"It was so humbling being robbed of my personality like that. I was never the smartest guy in the room but I could usually hold my own. In Normandy though, I was considered an idiot. Worse still, I couldn't get a laugh to save my life. In America, that was my thing, my identity." Chapter: Bruised

Books that can make me laugh until I cry usually earn an automatic 5 stars from me, but two chapters bothered me a little. The first was about a young male and the second was a chapter entitled Lady Marmalade where the author shared a controversial view about his sister Tiffany's accusations of abuse by their father. While these views were shared by other family members, it's not a topic I was comfortable hearing about or thought was appropriate to share with the public. Nevertheless, I'm not surprised Sedaris chose to work through these questions in the way he knows best, writing.
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Carpe_Librum | 21 other reviews | Jun 12, 2024 |


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