Theft by Finding
Diaries 1977 – 2002
By David Sedaris
In this collection of memories dating back to 1977, Sedaris regales his audience with humorous anecdotes and bizarre tales. Endlessly obsessed with the strange, the awkward and the peculiar, the author demonstrates his fascination with the seamy side of American culture. He walks us through the streets of Chicago during his years as an art student, when he was a hopeful author and aspiring playwright. Along with his sister Amy, he meanders aimlessly through a life of addiction, drunkenness and dissolution, waiting for inspiration, but not necessarily salvation.
He seems to revel in the gritty underbelly of America, and records his observations much as an anthropologist would transcribe speech and behavior patterns in a newly discovered civilization. An outsider in his own land, Sedaris watches, records and recounts the peculiarities of a culture often emulated around the world, leaving us to wonder why this is so. His stories seem to record the weakest and oddest members of the group; presumably because they offer the most fodder for his pen.
The early tales are hilarious. However, as he gains critical and monetary success, the stories become more factual and less entertaining. Oddly, there seem to be more laughs during his years of misery than his years of success. This memoir is reminiscent of Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell with one difference; Sedaris is quite a bit funnier.
Note on the audio recording (performed by Sedaris): his sense of comic timing is unbeatable. The author’s rendition is nuanced, well paced and impeccably acted, as are all of his recordings.