Theft by Finding : Diaries (1977-2002)
by Sedaris, David

Shares the author's favorite diary entries, providing a look into the mind of a comic genius.

David Sedaris is the author of the books Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Holidays on Ice, Naked, and Barrel Fever. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and BBC Radio 4. He lives in England.

*Starred Review* Sedaris' diaries are the wellspring for his cuttingly funny autobiographical essays, and he now presents a mesmerizing volume of deftly edited passages documenting 35 years of weird, disturbing, and hilarious experiences. Theft by Finding, Sedaris' latest riddling title, following Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls (2013), is a sly allusion to his artistic method: he is a champion eavesdropper and omnivorous observer, and this selective diary is basically a set of meticulous field notes cataloging atrocious human behavior. In 1977, college-dropout Sedaris is hitchhiking out West, picking fruit for pitiful wages, and getting high. He returns to Raleigh, his hometown, where he works odd jobs, makes art, and matter-of-factly records a litany of alarming encounters with enraged strangers, a theme that continues after he moves to Chicago, attends art school, and begins writing in earnest, and then in New York, where he ascends. People throw rocks and bottles at him, insult and threaten him, demand money and cigarettes. He records a constant barrage of racist, sexist, and anti-gay outbursts, and portrays an array of hustlers, eccentrics, bullies, and misfits. Sedaris is caustically witty about his bad habits and artistic floundering. Even when he cleans up his act, falls in love, and achieves raving success, Sedaris remains self-deprecating and focused on the bizarre and the disquieting. A candid, socially incisive, and sharply amusing chronicle of the evolution of an arresting comedic artist. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Devotees of mega-best-selling Sedaris have been waiting for access to his diary, and a robust marketing plan will get the word out fast. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Raw glimpses of the humorist's personal life as he clambered from starving artist to household name.For years, Sedaris (Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, 2013, etc.) has peppered his public readings with samples from his diaries, usually comic vignettes with a gently skewed view of humanity. Those are in abundance here. "Jews in concentration camps had shaved heads and tattoos," he writes after learning about a Chicago skinhead's arrest. "You'd think the anti-Semites would go for a different look." Forced to trim his toenails with poultry shears for lack of clippers, he writes, "that is exactly why you don't want people staying in your apartment when you're not there, or even when you are, really." The diaries also provide Ur-texts for some of the author's most famous stories, like his stint as a Macy's Christmas elf that led to his breakthrough radio piece, "The SantaLand Diaries," or the short-tempered, chalk-throwing French teacher in Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000). But tho ugh the mood is usually light, the book is also a more serious look into his travails as an artist and person: Sedaris is candid about his early ambitions to succeed as a writer, his imposter syndrome as a teacher, his squabbles with his never-satisfied dad and mentally ill sister, Tiffany, and his alcoholism. Even that last challenge, though, is framed as comic, or at least the stuff of non sequitur: "Today I saw a one-armed dwarf carrying a skateboard. It's been ninety days since I've had a drink." While Sedaris' career took flight during the period this book captures, success didn't change him much; it just introduced him to a broader swath of the world to observe and satirize. He can hardly believe his good luck, so he's charmed by the woman who, upon escorting him to a packed bookstore reading, exclaims, "goodness, they must be having a sale." A surprisingly poignant portrait of the artist as a young to middle-aged man. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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