David Sedaris returns with his sharp satirical eye intact
David Sedaris is back.
After a five-year hiatus, the noted culottes-wearing satirist has penned “Calypso,” short stories based on his keen eye for everyday life — with topics ranging from family to travel to garbage collecting.
Sedaris — notorious for his humor and biting social commentary — is a New York Times bestselling American author, humorist, comedian and radio contributor.
Currently a contributor to The New Yorker, he lives with his partner in Sussex, England. On Friday, June 29, he’ll be at Warwick’s to talk about “Calypso,” which was published May 29.
Q: Why is middle age so hard? Is there a secret to aging gracefully?
A: Old age is hard; think incontinence and falling down all the time. Middle age is just the warm-up. I think the secret is to be rich. That doesn’t make you younger, it just pads the general indignity a bit. It means you’re peeing on an expensive sofa rather than a cheap one and someone else is getting the stain out.
Q: How has the Fitbit changed your life?
A: The Fitbit completely took over my life. I’d always gotten a fair amount of exercise. I’d ride my bike from point A to point B. I’d swim. But this really fed into my obsessive nature. When I’m at home, I now walk between 15 and 22 miles per day. I go out after lunch, return at 8:30 p.m. and go out again at 11 p.m. or so. My record is 91,000 steps in a day, which is 43 miles.
When on tour, I do as much as possible. If I have an 8 a.m. pickup for the airport, I’ll get up at 6 a.m. and walk for two hours. Then I’ll walk more at the airport. The Fitbit has robbed me of my life.
Q: Why do you like to clothes shop as a family in Japan? Why is it like being in a pie-eating contest, only with stuff?
A: My sisters and I have similar tastes and love talking each other into spending money. It’s like a game to us. Because Japan is so far away, there’s that extra sense of urgency. If I don’t get this suit made from a sleeping bag, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life, I’ll think.
Q: Do you still like wearing culottes?
A: I think I have seven pairs now. I’m sure there are more in my future. They’re basically just bell-bottom shorts. And my calves are my best feature.
Q: How many languages do you speak? What’s your language advice for travelers?
A: I speak English, bad French, high school Spanish, baby Japanese, vacation German and Italian, party trick Swedish and five words of Ukrainian.
Study a language before you go on a trip; it makes the experience so much richer. Plus, people like it when you make an effort.
Q: What words do you outlaw?
A: I outlaw any word or phrase you’d hear on TV or from a shop clerk because they’re tired: the “awesome,” and “welcome in” and “I got your back,” “it is what it is” and “bucket list,” etc.
Q: What stands out when visiting American hotels?
A: I’m grateful for the irons and ironing boards, which you don’t find quite as often in European hotels. It’s disappointing to me that tubs are disappearing, replaced by showers for some reason.
I’m also disheartened by the number of televisions in public spaces.
What puzzles me in American hotels is that they’re always pressing water on you. “Need a bottle for your trip to the airport?” the bellman will ask. “I’m actually not walking there,” I always say. “This car is bringing me and I should arrive in 15 minutes. I’m pretty sure I can go that long without drinking.”
Q: What is appealing about being an expatriate and living in Sussex, England?
A: I don’t like the word “expatriate.” It seems overly romantic, a tired holdover. The English countryside is interesting because most of the people there tend to be British. This is opposed to London, which has a larger immigrant population.
Q: Your work focuses primarily on your adventures and observations. Of all your unpredictable experiences you’ve shared with your readers, which was the most unbelievable to you, causing you to question in the moment, “Is this really happening?”
A: I suppose the most unpredictable moment took place 10 years ago when I bought Hugh a stuffed owl. The story “Understanding Owls” unfolded right in front of me. It wrote itself, really.
Q: Anything you’d like to add?
“Calypso” by David Sedaris, Little, Brown and Company, 272 pages.
Conversation with David Sedaris
When: 7 p.m. June 29
Where: Warwick’s, 7812 Girard Ave., La Jolla.
Tickets: Sold out; waiting list available.
Phone: (858) 454-0347
Davidson is a freelance writer.
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