I’d never been to a reading before – not until tonight.
David Sedaris broke that experience wide open. I really didn’t know what to expect, outside of a handful of assorted scenes in a movie or two. I was quite pleased. It was funny. And intimate. Sedaris acted as if he was just talking to a small group in a used bookstore outside of his Paris apartment. But he wasn’t – this was Sioux Falls. This was the Midwest.
For the most part, everything Sedaris read was new – to me at least. Two New Yorker pieces, one upcoming and one from the past, and a piece from Esquire served as the backbone of the performance. A classic from Me Talk Pretty One Day – my first exposure to Sedaris – was brought out because, as he said, everything was fair game. He’d never been to Sioux Falls. Or South Dakota for that matter.
There’s an air involved with a book/author reading that spreads the creative jelly around. I found myself imagining my own book tour, if I ever was given the chance. Or if I ever wrote a book, for that matter. I found myself thinking about what I could be doing instead of whatever it is that I do to waste time in my life.
Sedaris is so unassuming – so modest, yet so full of good literary taste that I could have just crawled inside of his head and found the part that dealt with words and picked it dry. I could have figured out what books he had read that inspired him, and which techniques he used to be creative. Authors like Lorrie Moore keep popping up whenever the influences of my favorite writers are mentioned. Maybe if I read more Lorrie Moore, I’ll catch that bug. I like her a lot. So do the writers I admire. A = B+C.
Let’s face it. I watched David Sedaris talk, and sign books, and do what he loves to do, and I realized one thing. I am jealous. Just as anyone who sees what they want to be in someone else gets jealous.
It’s horrible, isn’t it? I should be excited about seeing great writers. And I am. But it’s all laced with a certain trace of jealousy. It’s one of my flaws – something that I hate about myself to the utmost. But it’s there, and I’d be a fool to ignore it. But I also wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have it. And I content myself with that. Seeing someone I enjoy, someone who makes the art look so easy, so off the cuff, only drives me a little more.
Sedaris in person is just as meek, just as unassuming, as he was on stage. He’s a hilarious guy, and he answered questions after the show with such skill that you know he’s been through it a couple of times before. Still, this didn’t make anything seem insincere. He signed our books, and asked how long Kerrie and I had been married and said we looked too young to be married. He told me I had nice skin. And then I left. I knew that I had just met someone that I looked up to.
Sedaris writes like I want to write. Short. Funny. Clever. This creative ADD I feel like I have is perfectly suited for advertising and short story/essay writing. And after watching a quick witted and well written man like Sedaris for an hour and a half, it’s all I can do to stop writing and go to bed. I bought books he recommended. I read the short stories that he personally chose “for fucked up kids.” I like all that he does, from articles to books.
David Sedaris is my kind of author – the kind that instills a feeling of “I can do that.” Not because it’s basic or simple. But because he makes it look so easy.
If only I could wake up with this feeling – this drive. Until then, I can content myself with some cleverly written autographs and the feeling that I’ve seen a literary celebrity.