Theft by Finding: Diaries (book)


Sitting down to type this piece, I had a look at the catalogue of Sedaris' work and realised that the majority of his work is now auto-biographical. In fact I haven't read a single fiction piece by Sedaris, all of my exposure has been through his auto-biographical stuff.

This book contains his diary entries from 1977 to 2002 which are the nuggets of raw material that make up the vast range of his work from the late 90s. For a Sedaris fan like me, who cannot get enough of his humour and perspective of the world, it was a pure joy to read with moments of cackling out loud. The diary entries paint what it was like to live in big tough cities like Chicago and New York in the 70s and 80s: it just seems like you couldn't really walk around carrying anything of great value because there were constant threats of getting mugged.

There are somber moments too like when one of the earlier entries talk about this new 'cancer' that's been found that "only kills homosexuals". But the book is ultimately a coming of age story and it is a happy story as clich√© as that may seem. His early years struggling with money and working in odd jobs, his art, his work in theatre and teaching as well as his drug habits all chronicled and I despaired with him when he got bullied yet again and cheered for him when he got his first review in Time. 

Is it considered unusual releasing a diary when you're still alive? I suppose that is Sedaris' style as the guy pretty much invented the genre of oversharing or, perhaps better put, a hyperrealist literary style. Some may find it over self-indulgent having so many books that are auto-biographical as well as getting the diary itself published. But ultimately it's not about David Sedaris, rather he is the lens through which you see the world and it is an interesting and hilarious perspective and although not overly educational or intellectual, it quenches the thirst of your soul like a glass of tart lemonade.

So I suppose you could say that Sedaris is my guilty pleasure. One thing this book has done is highlight for me the importance of writing in a diary or journal or even blogging as a medium. I think the contemporaneity of entries gives off something that is so unique it cannot be produced elsewhere. There is something cool about how certain entries just capture a particular moment in time perfectly. 

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