Theft by Finding ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp
David Sedaris is a humor writer whose work is not raunchy or cruel. I’ve read all his books (Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, When You are Engulfed in Flames, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Holidays on Ice, Naked, Barrel Fever) and I usually buy his latest book from Amazon as soon as it comes out. I stood in line for over an hour at one of his book signings to get him to sign my copies of Holidays on Ice and Me Talk Pretty One Day. Then I sat down and rested.
His books are made up of engaging stories that, since they are true and not fiction, are informal “essays.” He writes about his family, people he’s met, his travels, and things that have happened to him, good or bad. His latest book, Theft by Finding, is something of a departure for him, because it’s not these informal essays but is instead diary entries going back forty years.
That’s what Theft by Finding is: 512 pages of diary entries. Some of the entries are little anecdotes and some are less than that. In his introduction, he says that he imagines people not reading the whole book page for page, but instead “dipping in” the way you would with a high school yearbook. I read the whole book page for page. If you think it’s tedious, it isn’t, especially after you’ve read for a while. The most engaging diary entries are the ones where he is recounting things he’s heard people say and things he’s seen them do, as in the IHOP restaurants where he used to hang out a lot, first in his home town of Raleigh, North Carolina, and then in Chicago. When he’s not hanging out at the IHOP, he’s struggling to make a living cleaning apartments or sanding furniture. He has not had an easy life, or if he has an easy life now, it hasn’t always been that way. He is kind of an “everyman,” uncovering the absurdity of living in the world today. You easily recognize yourself in what he’s saying. That must be the key to his popularity.
Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp