David Sedaris, an American author, essayist, and radio contributor, shared excerpts from his new untitled book, past essays, and recent diary entries in Lisner Auditorium last Wednesday night.
Sedaris, who has visited GW in October for several years in a row, is currently on tour and Washington is the eighth stop of 33 cities he plans to visit this fall. The reading in Lisner was sold out, with more than 1,000 students, professors and GW community members turning out to hear from Sedaris.
He was introduced, jokingly, as “America’s most beloved author,” and started by delivering a fictional essay, “Healthcare Freedoms and Why I Want My Country Back,” about an ignorant woman whose guileless son involved her in protests against health care reform.
The son ultimately sent his mother to Seattle, Washington in a Ku Klux Klan hat and a shirt that read “Big Proud Dyke.” The “dyke” referred a dam to hold back the sea of health care reform, the purpose of the “white, cone-shaped hat” was to protect her eyes from the sun, and by Washington, her son spoke of Seattle, not D.C.
Needless to say – Sedaris is not afraid to raise eyebrows.
Sedaris, 52, also chronicled his childhood friendship with Dan, his neighbor as he grew up in Raleigh, N.C.
Sedaris began by noting that in fourth grade he recognized that he was different from other boys and “didn’t welcome male company as other ten-year-olds did, and wondered if the other boys swung their arms in the same way he did when he walked.”
The essay also touched on his strained relationship with his father, his and Dan’s experience nurturing sea turtles, his encounter with two African-American men having intercourse in a public bathroom, and the aftermath of Dan’s father’s death. His essays were honest and self-deprecating; he never missed an opportunity to poke fun at himself.
Sedaris also shared entries from his diary and discussed the themes of his book tours. The entry that elicited the strongest laugher from the crowd was about his qualm with Jesus always being depicted as a physically attractive person.
“We always see the Jesus with washboard abs and long brown hair. I want to see a fat, bald Jesus who conjures one-hundred loaves of bread and eats fifty of them,” he said.
The theme of his last tour was breast milk-and Sedaris had several stories to share from his tour, including meeting fans who were breast-feeding, watching someone drink breast milk from a champagne glass, and even consuming a fan’s breast milk at a book signing.
“We both know where this is going,” said the fan as Sedaris drank what she had given him.
In his final segment Sedaris recommended a book, Our Dumb World by The Onion, to the audience, describing it as “so naughty.”
He also took questions from the audience. When asked what he would write if he were asked to deliver a commencement address he responded that he would emphasize “the parent-child relationship,” and that “at age twenty-one, there is nothing to fear because you’re young and people still want to have sex with you.”
The final question pertained to the health care debate. Unsurprisingly after his first story, Sedaris said he supports reform and he “doesn’t know what America is afraid of.”