An Evening With Mr. Sedaris

Why would David Sedaris come to Port Angeles, Washington on his 40 day 38 city tour? Is he a Twilight fan? Did Seattle disappoint him on his last tour? Has he seen the peak of his career as a writer and will soon be reading at your local casino? No, David Sedaris came to Port Angeles (PA) to read because Hugh (if you are a Sedaris fan you already know who Hugh is) has a brother who lives in PA and they were celebrating Thanksgiving there. The local community celebrated their luck by filling the 2,000 seats in the PA auditorium for a pre-Thanksgiving reading.

Sedaris is one of those rare writers who can read as well as he can write. Most writers are reluctant readers. I don’t mean to imply that they can’t read, it is just not something that introverts enjoy doing. Sedaris enjoys being on stage.

To hear his nasally, high-pitched voice coming out from a human being as opposed to a car radio was a bit odd at first, but like all great works when confronted with the original the human mind has a way of adjusting all the information it has taken in previously about the masterpiece. And Sedaris is a masterpiece. For example, I can never look at a Vermeer painting in a book again without wondering if it is the size of a postage stamp. Bigger isn’t always better, but little paintings have never impressed me. I spent a good 30 minutes in the Louvre looking for Vermeer’s Lacemaker painting only to find it. I was underwhelmed. Sure it was a good painting, I couldn’t do it, but come on…get a bigger canvas.

Maybe a Surrealist painting would have been a better example because the reading was a surreal experience. Sedaris took the stage carrying about 40 pounds of paper in a bunch of folders and then spent 90 minutes selecting things to read from this pile of papers. He announced early on that he wanted to read things that Hugh had not heard before. His choices revolved around his father, but like all Sedaris essays his initial topic of a colonoscopy might lead to a five-minute rant about republicans threatening to leave America if Obama was reelected.

What I found fascinating was what a little hive of activity Mr. Sedaris was during the reading. If I were trained in the field of psychology I might be able to give you a brief diagnosis, but instead I will give you an inaccurate description of what he was up to: He is a fiddler. Even while he is reading, he is fiddling. He might read a sentence or two, gauge the audience response and then write something on the page. There was no pause, he just wrote while he was reading. Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t sign my name and talk at the same time. There were also brief shots of Bianca breath spray every so often and enough repeated motion that the diagnosis of OCD entered my head.  By the end of the evening I had decided that Sedaris was a modern version of a Charles Dickens’ character: Strange, but all-together human and possible.

Sedaris did announce that he has another book coming out soon, he described it as the things that would get published if he died, but I did not notice a diminishment in quality. His observations were as funny as my favorite book, Me Talk Pretty One Day. The audience in PA agreed, Mr. Sedaris has not lost a step.

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