Calypso by David Sedaris (2018)

calypso

While I understand that his sense of humor and style of writing are not to everyone’s taste, I adore David Sedaris and have since I was a teenager. I find something especially stirring in the way he reflects on the tender, tragic, and funny moments in his life and connects them into these small (sometimes profound, sometimes ludicrous) life lessons. In Calypso, that pattern holds.

As in all of his recent writing, Calypso discusses Sedaris’ home, his partner, his family, his writing, and his travels. This collection of essays focuses heavily on the recent suicide of one of his sisters and its impact on the rest of the family. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and thoughtful, Sedaris’ stories examine the uniqueness of his family, of their relationships (sometimes strained) to one another, and the undeniable strength they draw from their shared experiences. Indeed, in one essay Sedaris admits that his family is crazy, fucked up, full of addicts, but it is a tribe he would rather belong to another than any other. He writes, “though I’ve often lost faith in myself, I’ve never lost faith in my family, in my certainty that we are fundamentally better than everyone else. Ours is the only club I’ve ever wanted to be a member of, the only one I couldn’t imagine quitting.” (29)

The influence his mother and sister had in his life while they were alive — and have had on it after their deaths — factors into almost every essay. As he grows older, Sedaris cannot help but think about the death, about the years his mother and sister lost, and what lies beyond.

Of course, it would not be a David Sedaris book without his awkward, wacky, one-off stories included among the more thoughtful stories. Notably, the titular story about Sedaris, a tumor, a book tour and a turtle. Also noteworthy, is his discussion about how people around the world curse at bad drivers…very funny!

I laughed out loud, I cried often, found myself shocked a time or two by this collection and loved every page of Calypso. So much so that I read it twice in a row before handing it off to my husband to read.

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