In Theft by Finding, David Sedaris recounts entries from his diaries between 1977 – 2002.
As a longtime David Sedaris fan, this book is like visiting old friends.
It’s a chance to fill in some more of the background details behind his essays. It’s also a chance to revisit his dry, sardonic wit.
Sedaris’ outlook on the world is different. He’s the type who wants a book of medical maladies for Christmas. The type for whom vices become addictions. I imagine someone having a conversation with him and not quite knowing whether he’s insulting them or being hilariously sarcastic.
Some key takeaways:
- A lot of people asked Sedaris for cigarettes between 1977 and 2002. They were none too happy if the answer was ever “no.”
- We got to see more of his teaching stint! “I told the beginning students that it’s a tradition for the class to buy the teacher a gift at the end of the school year.” Nicely played!
- We get to see him meet Hugh and get hired at Santaland! 1990 was a great year for Sedaris, when a lot of good things were set in motion. 1991, however, was a really sad year.
- He does a lot of “theft by finding” (if you really want to call it theft). The amount of loose cash this guy has found over the years is awe-inspiring. Realistically, it’s not that much, but compared to my $5 find claim to fame, it’s a lot.
- It didn’t dwell much on his drug use. And from his other stories, it seems that there was quite a lot of it.
- His article, “Me Talk Pretty One Day” came out while he was still in French class! Wow, that must have been awkward.
- It’s fun getting to see him go from poor to posh.
This reads like a medley of his greatest hits.
For me, with full (and almost creepy) knowledge and context of every one of his stories, it’s like a warm, welcome blanket. Every word is a delight.
For those uninitiated to Sedaris, the punches may land a little softer. They don’t fully know the crassness of Helen, the terrifying rule his French teacher held over the class, the family dynamic with each of his siblings and what a loss their mother was.
For a Sedaris fan, though, it’s catnip. It fills in gaps, expands well-loved stories, and provides an always valued
I can’t wait for his later diaries. I want to hear more about David Rakoff, Tiffany, and his life as a famous person. (FYI, you can get some info here)