Summer Reading: Theft by Finding

Book three is on the lighter side, David Sedaris’s Theft by Finding.  This is a collection of diary entries from 1977-2002.  It reads differently from his other work in some ways, but as a long-time fan, I could see where the ideas for much of his work came from, and by the end, could hear his distinctive voice.

The book begins in media res, so to speak, unlike a memoir, which might cover childhood, etc.  Instead, we’re thrown into a time when David is hitchhiking and unless you do the math, you’re not sure how old he is.  The early entries are filled with interesting observations of people and places, but also tales of his own harassment by others, his drinking, doing drugs and being broke frequently.  I was glad I knew how things turned out for him because if I didn’t, I’d have been worried.

Though Sedaris has always downplayed his ambitions, you can see glimpses of it even in what looks like pretty desperate moments.  He knows how much he needs to save to get to New York.  There are brief mentions of writing he’s working on.  You can tell he wants to get somewhere, and that’s why the story doesn’t end in tragedy.

As always, there are some really funny moments where I found myself laughing out loud.  His thoughts are so weird and yet, somehow, not that different from our own weird thoughts. I found myself thinking simultaneously, wow, that’s odd and oh, yeah, that’s exactly how I’d feel.

I always find myself thinking after reading books like this, that detail how people live their lives, that I should do more.  I think I should travel more, write more, go out more, etc.  If a memoir/diary has ended up in print, generally the person’s life isn’t boring–or at least the slices we’re shown aren’t boring–and so then I think my own is boring by comparison.  Of course, I’m writing this from the porch of a beach house, so my life isn’t that bad.

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