Reviews for Calypso

by David Sedaris

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Sedaris spends a good part of every year speaking all over the world; it's no wonder, then, that many of the personal essays in this new collection (his first since Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, 2013, though he released the first volume of his diaries last year) consider air travel and his fellow passengers. Such constant movement, on tour or between his cottage in West Sussex and his home on North Carolina's Emerald Isle, provides plenty of fodder for him to rage against small talk but not without suggestions for its improvement. Sedaris' family and upbringing have long been mainstays in his work, but this collection encompasses perhaps his most tender writing on the subjects yet. His sister Tiffany's recent suicide looms over family get-togethers, and his parents, his mother long passed and his father still hale in his nineties, receive ample page-time, too. For readers concerned that Sedaris has become too reverent, there's also an episode in which he seeks connection with a tortoise via hilariously head-scratching means. Readers may think they know what to expect from Sedaris; they'll be both surprised and delighted. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: There will be major fanfare, including a four-month tour, for Sedaris' first new collection in five years. Order up!--Bostrom, Annie Copyright 2018 Booklist


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Humor is supposed to be the opposite of tragedy, but in the hands of gifted writer and humorist Sedaris, they work brilliantly together. This is a very funny book about death. In 2015, Sedaris is stunned when he learns that his youngest sister has committed suicide, just months before her 50th birthday. Naturally, the disturbing event launches him into a series of meditations on grief and loss. He reflects on the long-ago death of his mother, the declining health of his 90-year-old father, his aging siblings, his relationship with his longtime partner, Hugh, and his own mortality. But then serious contemplation gives way to odd digressions and witty observations. Whether writing about the litter on the street or his own malfunctioning fitbit, the selected details are strange, surprising, funny, and memorable. They are also haunting reminders of our mortality, and as a result, reveal how life is both beautiful and absurd and how, paradoxically, it takes a combination of both to make it worth living. VERDICT While essayist Sedaris has always been personal, this work shows him at his most vulnerable. His honesty is compelling, and his ability to create laughter in the darkness offers readers comfort and hope. [See Prepub Alert, 12/4/17.]-Meagan Lacy, Guttman Community Coll., CUNY Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Humorist Sedaris (Theft by Finding) collects 21 essays largely about family bonds and getting older in this hilarious yet tender volume. Facing middle age, the author purchased a beach house, which he named Sea Section, in his childhood state of North Carolina. The beach abode serves not only its intended purpose as a perfect location for family gatherings, but also ends up being a venue for arguments, jokes, and encountering local wildlife (in particular, a snapping turtle to whom Sedaris joked he'd feed a benign fatty tumor Sedaris had formed). Sedaris's mother died of cancer in 1991 at the age of 62, but his conservative, 92-year-old father (with whom he has a difficult relationship), three sisters (a fourth committed suicide), and younger brother are frequent visitors and fodder for Sedaris's perceptive and imaginative sense of humor; no subject seems too sacred for his wit, including his sister's suicide ("I've always liked to think that before killing myself I'd take the time to really mess with people") and the physical attractiveness of Jesus. He also riffs on topics ranging from the inane conversations people have at shops, airports, and hotels ("You're a long way from home, aren't you?" one bellman comments) to the nasty expletives drivers scream from cars. Throughout, Sedaris reveals a deep loyalty to family, with loving reminiscences of his mother, a palpable wish to be closer to his father, and a nostalgic devotion to his siblings and their shared memories. The author's fans and newcomers alike will be richly rewarded by this sidesplitting collection. (May) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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