NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t


FRESH AIR: Humorist David Sedaris admits that his latest work, Theft by Finding, isn’t exactly the book he set out to publish. It was originally meant to be a collection of funny diary entries, but then Sedaris’ editor had a suggestion that changed its course. “My editor said, ‘Why don’t you go back to the very beginning and find things that aren’t necessarily funny and put those in as well?’ ” Sedaris says. “Soon those [entries] outweighed the funny ones, and the funny ones seemed almost over-produced, so I got rid of a lot of them.” The result is a collection of moments pulled from the diaries Sedaris wrote between 1977 and 2002. Theft by Finding includes major turning points in Sedaris’ life: the NPR broadcast of excerpts from his SantaLand Diaries collection, meeting his longtime boyfriend, Hugh, and the death of his mother. But most of the entries are quieter moments in which Sedaris writes about cleaning houses for a living, doing drugs and observing patrons at IHOP.Though Sedaris has published personal stories and books based on his journals before, the idea of pulling from decades-old diaries took some getting used to.”Publishing a first draft of something you wrote when you were drunk and 21 — I’ll do it if it works and it’s inviting on the paper, but a lot of the entries in this book, they’re like three lines long,” he says. “I might’ve written four pages that day, but of those four pages the only thing that might be of interest to someone else are these three lines.” MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: Once Sedaris reaches Chicago, the diaries shift and mutate. In the ’70s and early ’80s, still in Raleigh, they function as a stress vent. Now they feel like limbering-up exercises for the kind of writing he’s going to do. The entries about the IHOP he frequents, and the rotating cast of flinty waitresses and damaged customers, feel like tracks off an early EP of a beloved band. I felt another warm jolt of camaraderie when I read how Sedaris was happy to discover that David Lynch used to eat at the same Bob’s Big Boy in Los Angeles for years. I remember discovering that same nugget of information about Lynch, and how it somehow justified my eating nearly every breakfast during the ’90s at the House of Pies in Los Feliz. MORE