Friday, January 24, 2014

David Sedaris

David Sedaris is one of my favourite authors. He writes memoirs in short story or essay form. They are mostly about his family, especially growing up in his large family. He has a way with words and can be quite sharp and witty, but underlined with a sense of melancholy and isolation, most especially when he is reminiscing about his childhood. He is the kind of author that can make you laugh out loud and sigh with understanding in almost the same breath.

I've devoured everything by him and relished listening to him read his own words on talking books. His voice is exactly as I imagined it and of course The Internet gives me access to live recordings of his work. But I had never seen him live. 

So when he was to appear at the Sydney Opera House I jumped at the chance, taking A and L with me.

He tours regularly, he likes to read his work out loud, and especially loves the meet and greet at book signings. He uses both to hone his work. The readings help him develop new pieces, he actually takes notes as he talks to remind himself of changes, where people laughed, where they didn't, and anything he added off the cuff that worked. The meet and greet gives him access to little bits that he adds to his work or expands on. He wrote about these processes specifically in his latest book, Let's explore diabetes with owls.

When we arrived at the SOH, there was a line up for pre-show book signings, so we joined the queue, but were unfortunately cut off two prior! We planned to sprint out as soon as the show ended and see if karma served us did, but more on that later!

The show started a little late and he was on stage for just over 90mins with no break. We were at the side in the second row, but the way the seats were we had no one in front of us, so technically it was like being the front row.

He seemed a little nervous and stumbled over a lot of words in the first section, but it was endearing.

He read three larger pieces; an old one, one from his latest book, and a new one. Then a range of his diary entries.

Mostly it was funny, thought provoking, and a little I would expect. There were at times, and only a few times, a few bits of misogyny and oddly tacky humour. I did not care for that, but it didn't take away from the overall enjoyment of the show.

From where we sat I could see him take notes as he spoke, moreso on the new pieces and diary entries. He loved it when people laughed, his face lit up. He seemingly loved it when the audience laughed at the more risque or tacky bits, he laughed out loud with a wry smile. I am still in two minds, was he laughing with the audience as they laughed or laughing at them FOR laughing at such subject matter? It did unnerve me a little.

But I did thoroughly enjoy the experience, as a lover of literature, words, and all things books, authors are my favourite people. To hear them talk about their processes or hear them read their work exactly as they intended is the most joyous thing.

After we did the sprint to the book signing line and scored second from the top, so karma was with us. We waited a short while and presented our books for him to sign. My friend A is Greek (as is he) so she greeted him and they chatted, it was lovely, he thought L was also Greek and asked me why I was with Greek people, lol! We chatted and talked about twitter and stuff and he was sweet and funny and kind. I was totally starstruck and didn't say much. He wrote and drew in my books and we all went away happy and content.

Meeting your 'heroes' can be difficult, but he made it an absolute pleasure.

No comments: