Sunday, September 24, 2017

Theft by Finding: Diaries: Volume One, by David Sedaris

Staff review by Chris Saliba

The first volume of David Sedaris's diaries, covering the period 1977-2002.

David Sedaris’s complete diaries run to some 159 handwritten journals. For publication, he has edited  them down into two volumes. Theft by Finding covers the period 1977 to 2002, beginning when Sedaris was barely twenty and struggling. During these years he had no money (a constant worry), worked lousy odd jobs and lived in rough neighbourhoods. Life was full of constant humiliations – angry people asking for money, or abusing you for no reason. The America he records is one of startling racism, sexism, anti-semitism, homophobia and white supremacy.

The self-portrait that come through in the early diaries is of a hopeless, aimless young man that can’t take any initiative. This wasn’t entirely true, though, as Sedaris kept chipping away at his writing, theatre and art projects.  When America’s National Public Radio broadcast him reading one of his stories in the early nineties, success was almost immediate. The second half of the diaries records extensive travel and living abroad, although his focus is always other people, not personal fame.

Sedaris is a dedicated recorder of the everyday – overheard conversations, unusual people, awkward social interactions, bizarre TV progams, his family, life with his partner, Hugh. Theft by Finding is funny, entertaining, self-deprecating and honest, a book that is true to life.

Theft by Finding: Diaries: Volume One, by David Sedaris. Published by Little, Brown. ISBN: 9780349120737 RRP: $29.99

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