Thursday, June 1, 2017

Theft by Finding: Diaries

Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) by David Sedaris
Little, Brown and Company: 5/30/17
eBook review copy; 528 pages
ISBN-13: 9780316154727

Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) by David Sedaris is very highly recommended collection of entries from his diaries.

This is an edited compilation selected by Sedaris of his diaries. "I’m including only a small fraction. An entirely different book from the same source material could make me appear nothing but evil, selfish, generous, or even, dare I say, sensitive. On any given day I am all these things and more: stupid, cheerful, misanthropic, cruel, narrow-minded, open, petty - the list goes on and on." A different edit would have changed the entire book. In fact, Sedaris started out planning to just share the funny diary entries when his editor suggested that he go back to the early entries and share things that weren't as funny. He did this and it changed the book, as he then decided to eliminate many of the funny entries. The result is a compelling collection that follows Sedaris's life from a struggling drug-abusing drop out to a celebrated humorous author.

For his diary entries Sedaris notes: "What I prefer recording at the end - or, more recently, at the start - of my day are remarkable events I have observed (fistfights, accidents, a shopper arriving with a full cart of groceries in the express lane), bits of overheard conversation, and startling things people have told me." The wonderful thing about these tidbits of observation  is that they often capture societal opinions during current events of the times. For those of us who are around the same age, the entries pull you back to that time and what was happening then, as well as what you were doing.

Fans of Sedaris's writing will clearly see the inspiration for some of his stories. His wit and humor, along with the gifted way he has with words and descriptions, is here, and many will recognize  the source material for some of his stories. But while he is often hilarious, he is also honest. There are many poignant revelations and emotional situations presented along with the expected funny remarks, stories, and observations.

Theft by Finding is not to be missed. The title of the book is based on a term used in the U.K. where, if you discover something of value and keep it, it is called "theft by finding." Sedaris's acute eye and ear for actions and dialogue is clearly evident as he recorded many events and conversations that he "found" or overheard, along with the more direct conversations and encounters he experienced.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Little, Brown and Company.

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