Theft by Finding by David Sedaris

In brief: David Sedaris’ diaries in all their glory. ‘Nuff said.

The good: It’s raw, funny, crazy, quirky…all of the things. He’s an astute observer who overhears and gets into the most random of scenarios…I love it all.

The not-so-good: I can never get enough David Sedaris.

Why I chose it: Thank you to Hachette for the copy (and for igniting my love of David Sedaris years ago).

Year: 2017

Pages: 514

Publisher: Little, Brown (Hachette)

Setting: Everywhere.

Rating: 10 out of 10

I was late to the wonder that is David Sedaris. It wasn’t until Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls was released that he entered my radar, 99% because of that title. (It still cracks me up). Since then, I’ve been to see him live twice and stood in queues to meet him twice. It’s always been worth it. David is genuinely funny and interested in what anybody has to say (even if you’re having a discussion about suppository wrapping). I’m rationing myself on his back catalogue (because to run out of his writings would be a disaster) but I couldn’t help but gobble down Theft by Finding on release.

As the cover suggests, this is the first volume of David’s diaries, covering from 1977 to 2002. That means there is a lot more Sedaris wit to come (phew!). There’s no huge explanation of the trajectory of his life, nor excuses for various paths, he just gets straight into it. Picking fruit and hitching lifts? Covered. Overheard conversations with strangers – tick. (It had me trying the same on a recent trip to the city – my presence just doesn’t invite the same confessions, revelations and titbits). Drugs, love, plays, friends and the IHOP (International House of Pancakes) – plenty to entertain you. You will laugh out loud many times. You’ll shake your head in wonder at the things David is told and sees. This is a very interesting life.

As Theft by Finding is a diary, you won’t know what happened to Jace the bullfight watching waiter at the IHOP or what happened to David’s fighting neighbours. It’s not a novel and hey, I bet you don’t know what happened to the person you sat next to on the train three years ago either! Some entries are short, some run for pages. Some months aren’t mentioned, but who cares? This is a fascinating look at everyday people, doing everyday things…and then some not everyday things. For example, the Sedaris family. They have a crazy sense of humour that is right up my street and frankly, I want to be BFFs with Amy. Anyone who randomly goes up to people and starts saying outrageous things is hilarious. David’s brother Paul isn’t far behind with his notes instructing their parents to wake David up early.

But it’s not always hijinks galore in the family. David used quite a few drugs in his youth and was pretty broke too. There was the untimely death of his mother (which leads to the most heart wrenching diary entries of the book) and sister Tiffany isn’t doing too well. The honesty of the good with the bad reminds you that this isn’t a laugh a minute observation book, it’s the story of a real person, with a real family.

David mentions in the introduction to Theft by Finding that he doesn’t intend for the book to be sit and read in huge chunks, but rather something you dip in and out of. I failed completely as I sat and read 100 pages in the first session, then more and more. It’s addictive – not just because of the stories but you can see David maturing and the development in his writing. This is no ordinary diary, but one of the finest, bluntest observations of life that you’ll ever read.

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