Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Happy Birthday to Author, NPR Star David Sedaris

David Sedaris was born today, December 26, in 1956. He is an American humorist, comedian, author, and radio contributor. He was publicly recognized in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast his essay "SantaLand Diaries". He published his first collection of essays and short stories, Barrel Fever, in 1994. 

Much of Sedaris' humor is ostensibly autobiographical and self-deprecating, and often concerns his family life, his middle-class upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, his Greek heritage, homosexuality, jobs, education, drug use, and obsessive behaviors, and his life in France, London, and the English South Downs.

Sedaris was raised in a suburb of Raleigh and is the second child of six. His siblings, from oldest to youngest, are Lisa, Gretchen, Amy, Tiffany, and Paul (The Rooster). Tiffany Sedaris committed suicide in May 2013. In his teens and twenties, he dabbled in visual and performance art. He describes his lack of success in several of his essays.

He moved to Chicago in 1983 and graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1987. 

While working odd jobs across Raleigh, Chicago, and New York City, Sedaris was discovered in a Chicago club by radio host Ira Glass; Sedaris was reading a diary he had kept since 1977. Glass asked him to appear on his weekly local program, The Wild Room. Sedaris said, "I owe everything to Ira ... My life just changed completely, like someone waved a magic wand." Sedaris' success on The Wild Room led to his National Public Radio debut on December 23, 1992, when he read a radio essay on Morning Edition titled "SantaLand Diaries," which described his purported experiences as an elf at Macy's department store during Christmas in New York.

"SantaLand Diaries" was a success with listeners, and made Sedaris what The New York Times called "a minor phenomenon". He began recording a monthly segment for NPR based on his diary entries, edited and produced by Glass, and signed a two-book deal with Little, Brown and Company.

In 1994, Sedaris published Barrel Fever, a collection of stories and essays. He became a frequent contributor when Ira Glass began a weekly hour-long PRI/Chicago Public Radio show, This American Life, in 1995. Sedaris began writing essays for Esquire and The New Yorker. In 1997, he published another collection of essays, Naked, which won the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Non-Fiction from Publishing Triangle in 1998.

He wrote his next book, Me Talk Pretty One Day, mostly in France over 7 months and published it in 2000 to "practically unanimous rave reviews". For that book, Sedaris won the 2001 Thurber Prize for American Humor.

In 2004, Sedaris published Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, which reached number 1 on The New York Times Nonfiction Best Seller List in June of that year. The audiobook of Dress Your Family, read by Sedaris, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album; the same year, Sedaris was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album for his recording Live at Carnegie Hall.

In 2008 he released, When You Are Engulfed in Flames and in 2010, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary. Sedaris released a collection of essays, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, in 2013, and in 2017 published a collection of his 1977-2002 diaries, Theft By Finding. Also in 2013, the film adaptation of an essay from Naked was released as a feature length movie entitled C.O.G. starring Jonathan Groff.
Sedaris has contributed over 40 essays to The New Yorker magazine and blog.

Sedaris currently lives in the Horsham District of West Sussex, England, with his boyfriend Hugh Hamrick, whom Sedaris mentions in a number of his stories. Sedaris describes them as the "sort of couple who wouldn't get married." He enjoys collecting litter in the local area, where he is known as "Pig Pen," and has a garbage truck named after him.

1 comment:

Raybeard said...

I only 'discovered' this chap less than 10 years ago from his radio broadcasts of readings from his diary - and since then I always go out of my way to listen in, or catch up on them later, and they are never less than highly entertaining.
I'd realised that he was living somewhere vaguely in this part of the world, but hadn't known until now just how close he actually is - less than 20 miles away from me, just up the railway line. Well, well!