Calypso by David Sedaris : deeply personal and darkly hilarious

Coffee and a chocolate chip cookie at Tryst, Washington DC. 

I started reading Calypso on the metro into DC, and I wondered if people could tell what I was reading because I felt all my emotions visible on my face! That is the effect of this book!

His latest book, Calypso, is a collection of 21 essays about his family, health, mortality and relationship with his father and partner that form the foundation of this book. His stories are eloquently written exhibiting wry, wit, and sarcasm.

Sedaris’s writing is dark, humorous, and brutally honest. He is a great story-teller and his observations of every day scenarios are sure to resonate with you. He can make you laugh out loud (or snort in my case), and shed a few tears – all within the same few pages!

An excerpt from one of his essays ‘The Silent Treatment’. Here is their dinner table conversation in a restaurant. 

When our food arrived, I mentioned a flight attendant I’d recently met. “I was asking her about the things passengers leave behind on planes, and she told me that earlier that week she discovered a used Kotex in one of the seat backs.”

“Oh my God,” Amy said, delighted.

“And it was still warm,” I added.

My father looked down at his flounder. “Is that any way to talk at the table?”

“He’s disgusting,” Hugh said, happy to have found something he and my father could agree on.

I then brought up a fellow I’d met in New Mexico who has an uncle named Phil McCracken.

“What’s wrong with that?” my father asked.

“Fill my crack in,” Lisa said.

“Get it? Like butt crack?”

I’ll be the first to admit I had never even heard of David Sedaris till recently. But thanks to the bookstagram community, I came across books he had signed for readers that included a quirky message or an illustration. Which author actually has time to do that at a book signing?! I was pretty impressed. If you search the hashtag #davidsedarissignedbook you will come across many of this ‘off the wall’ signed copies for readers.

An excerpt from his essay titled  ‘A number of reasons I’ve been depressed lately’ . He writes about the last elections in the US and compares it to a 9 feet fall he has in his home in England.

“I later learn that what I suffered was called blunt force trauma. It’s remarkably similar to how I felt after the election, as if I’d been slammed into a wall or hit by a car. Both pains persist-show no signs, in fact, of ever going away. The damage is permanent. I will never be the same as I was before the accident/election.”

In the book he talks about his Fitbit obssesion, which I could obviously relate to (read about that here), and made me want to hug him or better yet compete with him!

In one of his other stories, he wants his tumor (lipoma) removed and wants the surgeon to hand it back to him. You will have to read the book to find out why!

Sedaris’s family members are so well constructed throughout the book, that you feel you know them intimately. He writes about the death of his sister with honesty and without emotion.

Some of his essays in Calypso have been previously published in ‘The New Yorker‘ and you can get a feel for his writing there, if you haven’t read his work before.

If you see my picture above you will notice that the latte art is a little off centered. As the barista handed it over, it had moved from its center. I was a bit reluctant to take my ‘perfect picture’, but with Calypso in hand, I figured David Sedaris could have had an interesting conversation about the latte art and written a complete essay on how we want things in life to be perfect! All stemming from a cup of coffee!

I would think the audio version of Calypso would be a treat to listen to!
Have you read any of his other works?

Until next time.
Happy Reading!

I look forward to your comments!

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