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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Humor (2018)
David Sedaris returns with his most deeply personal and darkly hilarious book.

If you've ever laughed your way through David Sedaris's cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think you know what you're getting with Calypso. You'd be wrong.

When he buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, Sedaris envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lounging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at the Sea Section, as he names the vacation home, is exactly as idyllic as he imagined, except for one tiny, vexing realization: it's impossible to take a vacation from yourself.

With Calypso, Sedaris sets his formidable powers of observation toward middle age and mortality. Make no mistake: these stories are very, very funny-it's a book that can make you laugh 'til you snort, the way only family can. Sedaris's powers of observation have never been sharper, and his ability to shock readers into laughter unparalleled. But much of the comedy here is born out of that vertiginous moment when your own body betrays you and you realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future.

This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk and love a good tumor joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris's darkest and warmest book yet-and it just might be his very best.

261 pages, Hardcover

First published May 29, 2018

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About the author

David Sedaris

125 books24.5k followers
David Sedaris is a Grammy Award-nominated American humorist and radio contributor.

Sedaris came to prominence 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. Each of his four subsequent essay collections, Naked (1997), Holidays on Ice (1997), Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000), Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004), and When You Are Engulfed in Flames (2008) have become New York Times Best Sellers.

As of 2008, his books have collectively sold seven million copies. Much of Sedaris' humor is autobiographical and self-deprecating, and it often concerns his family life, his middle class upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, Greek heritage, various jobs, education, drug use, homosexuality, and his life in France with his partner, Hugh Hamrick.

Excerpted from Wikipedia.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,239 reviews
Profile Image for Lori.
308 reviews100 followers
July 7, 2018
“I’m often misunderstood at my supermarket in Sussex, not because of my accent but because I tend to deviate from the script.

Cashier: Hello, how are you this evening?
Me: Has your house ever been burgled?
Cashier: What?
Me: Your house—has anyone ever broken into it and stolen things?

With me, people aren’t thinking What did you say? so much as Why are you saying that?

Top line Sedaris aslant observations and commentary on family, love, and aging. Some of the subjects are dark, some sadly bitter-sweet, but he's funny. It's good to laugh!
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews28 followers
November 3, 2019
I don’t think I could love David Sadaris more if I tried .....he’s already filled my entire heart - body - mind - soul - spirit - and funny bone with enough uplifting, awesome and amazing, unforgettable storytelling for a lifetime with the collection of these stories.
They are passionate and affecting — achingly good - urgent and surprising - contemporary and insightful - playful and outlandish- showing us the beauty in the broken — and ultimately teaching us to choose love.

A few times I laughed sooooo hard ( I’ve done this once or twice with a special book:
(Roz Chast comes to mind), while reading sentences to my husband at 5am in the morning- waiting for him to wake - so I could jump him with David Sedaris stories.
I’m home sick with a nasty infection in my throat - but it’s true ‘good’ laugher is healing! When you can’t even finish a sentence out loud because you’re laughing so hard yourself - a nerve has been hit!

I also felt deeply moved - touched - and blessed from memories David shared that were sensitive topics —DAVID IS SO OPEN TO LISTEN FOR UNDERSTANDING....including his own. I really can’t thank him enough for this book. To me- it’s the fullness - most beautiful- breathtaking- ‘rainbow-of-humanity’.

So a few little tidbits... Quotes & Thoughts....
Random picking.....[ There is not a dull let-up in any of these stories].

“In the ocean that afternoon, I watched my brother play with his daughter. The waves were high, and Madelyn hung laughing off Paul’s shoulders, I thought of how we use to do the same with our own father. It was the only time any of us ever touched him”.

“It’s not that our father waited till this late in the game to win our hearts. It’s that he was succeeding”.

“As I grow older, I find that people I know become crazy in one of two ways”....
David will share in details of the TWO WAYS PEOPLE BECOME *Crazy* in the story
“Leviathan”. I was laughing - shaking my head - rolling my eyes - AGREEING- laughing - laughing some more! Right on, David!

I was very impress that David had a GRABBER. I’ll pick up trash if I see it on a trail to toss in the trash can .... I’ll even clean the sinks in ladies bathrooms in restaurants so that a flood of water isn’t all over the counter sink for the next person who walks in.......but I don’t carry a GRABBER. David does.
So one day, David was collecting trash with his grabber. He said it’s always the usual things “ potato chip bags, candy wrappers, Redbull cans”.....
but.....”a strap-on penis?”
“It was Band-Aid colored about three inches long and not much bigger than a Vienna sausage”.
“Bare minimum?” ...... “Like AAA breast implants?”
“Who had this person been trying to satisfy, a Cabbage Patch Doll?”

Taking place in airports, on the plane, about his family - his siblings ( Tiffany committed suicide) - his 92 year old father - memories of his mother - about middle age and aging - trips to the dermatologist ( I can relate)- doctors - ( I can relate)- tumors- his beach house on Emerald Isle - ( find out what people feed the turtles) -
Shopping in Tokyo with one of his sisters - his relationship with his partner, Hugh- an English- speaking program David puts together for business travelers visiting the United States - obsessions with Fitbit - a love affair with an Omega juicer...etc.

These stories are extremely refreshing!

I want a “Calypso....I love David Sedaris” T-Shirt!

Thank You Little Brown and Company, Netgalley, and *David Sedaris*
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
June 18, 2018
4.5 stars.

For me, reading David Sedaris' books is like hanging out with that slightly strange friend—you may think you're crazy, but at least there's someone crazier than you out there!

I've been reading Sedaris' books on and off for a number of years, since his first collection, Barrel Fever , in 1994. In addition to helping bolster my self-esteem, he's always good for a fair amount of chuckling, giggling, and all-out belly laughing, not to mention his unique ability to highlight some of life's frustrating, mystifying, and joy-inducing foibles. Plus, every now and again he simply makes me gasp at his observations.

Calypso , his newest collection, certainly is chock-full of laughs, and there's a good supply of slightly gross observations about bodily functions and other physical issues. But I wasn't prepared for how emotionally rich this collection would be—on a number of occasions I found myself getting a little choked up as Sedaris pondered growing older, the aging and death of family members, the legalization of same-sex marriage and what it meant for his relationship with his boyfriend, even the mood of the country following the 2016 presidential election.

It's funny—in one story Sedaris talks about his mother-in-law, and how she "likes to interrupt either to accuse you of exaggerating—'Oh, now, that's not true'—or to defend the person you're talking about, someone, most often, she has never met." Some of his observations are so outlandish that I'll admit occasionally thinking like his mother-in-law, saying to myself, "That can't be true." Regardless of whether it is or not, Sedaris had me latching on to his every word.

I'm not a Puritan by any means, but I'll admit there were a few stories that were a little heavy on bodily functions and feeding things to animals (read the book and you'll know what I'm referring to). However, so much of this book was terrific, beautifully written, funny, wry, sarcastic, and even poignant. In many of the stories (as is often the case), Sedaris spoke of his family and his relationship with his father, which continues to confound him, even as his father moves into his 90s.

"Honestly, though, does choice even come into it? Is it my fault that the good times fade to nothing while the bad ones burn forever bright? Memory aside, the negative just makes for a better story: the plane was delayed, an infection set in, outlaws arrived and reduced the schoolhouse to ashes. Happiness is harder to put into words. It's also harder to source, much more mysterious than anger or sorrow, which come to me promptly, whenever I summon them, and remain long after I've begged them to leave."

Calypso is a pretty terrific book, further testament to Sedaris' skill as a storyteller, a social commentator, and an observer of this crazy world we live in. His writing is great for some laughs (don't be shocked if you laugh out loud a time or two, so if you're self-conscious, don't read this in public), and this book is good for a few tears as well!

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,839 followers
October 1, 2018
I think this is Sedaris’s finest work to date. While sticking with his usual humor and cynical delivery, he gets raw talking about topics like suicide, alcoholism, the afterlife, aging, etc. I found myself very emotionally engaged throughout the book and wanted to reach into it and give him a hug from time to time (which, no doubt, he would find disturbing and certainly have something to say about!)

If you have not read Sedaris before, I think he is one of the best memoir-ists of our time. While his stories are almost always his viewpoint on events that happened to him, it is very easy for the reader to find them relatable. I can’t imagine making the stories from my day to day as interesting as he does. His delivery and timing are perfect with just the right amount of shock value. Not all fans of a genre like stand-up comedy will find him amusing, but he definitely fits that genre and takes it up another level.

As mentioned above, this is the real-est I have ever seen Sedaris – and, generally he seems pretty real. But, I just don’t remember in the past starting off on one of his stories laughing and then finding myself near tears a few moments later. It is, without a better way to describe it, perfect Sedaris. That is it – he has honed his skills over the years and perfected them with this collection.

Do yourself a favor – no matter who you are – check out Sedaris. If you are already a Sedaris fan, check this out ASAP. It is truly awesome!
Profile Image for Julie G .
884 reviews2,755 followers
June 26, 2019
The most awful thing happened to me this past Friday. I was at the airport, my flight was delayed for hours by storms, and I ran out of material to read.

I was alone, and I had nothing to read.

I checked my phone. My emails. Called home. Walked around aimlessly for a while, wondering what I was going to do with myself. Finally, at the end of the terminal, I discovered a kiosk offering soft porn, chocolate and crime thriller/romance novels that I wouldn't touch with the bottom of my toes if they fell onto the floor. I sighed as I sensed my fate: I was going to spend the next seven hours at the airport looking at airbrushed nipples in a Playboy magazine.

And then. . . I saw it. David Sedaris's latest offering, Calypso, the book I've been denying myself, dangling it over my head like a hearty carrot, reserving it for emergency resuscitation in the case of a dreaded book slump.

But, this was an emergency, right? (Little did I know, my flight would go on to be canceled after a 6 hour delay, then my second flight would be canceled the following day).

Sedaris isn't Homer, but I adore him, and I reached out my hand and grabbed one of three copies like quicksilver (as though anyone was around me, purchasing a book).

It's interesting that I thought of Homer with humor in that little kiosk, laughing to myself at the thought of the Greek storyteller as an offering there, among the jumbo sized bags of peanut M&Ms and the naughty magazines.

David Sedaris is Greek-American, and, even though the title of his book has nothing to do with Greek mythology, it's interesting that it came out right around the same as Madeline Miller's Circe.

Two novels named after Greek nymphs in the same year?

You say you want a revolution. . . Well, you know. . .

Sedaris's reference to “Calypso” in this collection is a snarky one. In the essay by the same name, he's disappointed that he can't find a snapping turtle in the pond that he has dubbed his own, and when he realizes that this turtle seems to belong to everyone on the island, he writes:

I felt betrayed, the way you do when you discover that your cat has a secret secondary life and is being fed by neighbors who call him something stupid like Calypso.

And yet. . . and yet, David spends most of his writing here ruminating about the two missing members of Team Sedaris: Mom Sharon and Sister Tiffany.

Two of the goddesses from David's Greek chorus are gone and he has become preoccupied by their loss. So many of these essays express his longing for the two missing members of his tribe.

And, even though this collection is far less laugh-out-loud funny than some of David's other works, it is now, officially, my favorite.
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
309 reviews2,373 followers
August 23, 2019

It's really difficult to write humor, and nobody does it better than David Sedaris! I find him absolutely hilarious, but I know he is not everyone's cup of tea. (WHY NOT??)

Sedaris is in rare form with CALYPSO. Calypso, by the way, is the name his neighbors gave to his cat when the kitty is off living his completely hidden life. David Sedaris was not amused when he found out that name.

Sedaris makes every story funny, no matter how inappropriate the subject is. You will find yourself laughing out loud and think "wait, should I be laughing at that?"

He travels the world, lives in different countries and meets thousands of people, but to me, his most hilarious stories involve his family. In this collection of essays, we learn about his newish beach house on the North Carolina coast where his brother (now, the Juister, not the Rooster!) and his sisters and his 92-yr-old father gather at least once a year. How David Sedaris can make you laugh at stories that involve suicide, God, alcoholism and Trump is nothing short of gifted. He knows just when to back away for maximum humor impact.

As with any talented writer, I can never get enough! I will be first in line for all of his books. I especially love them on audio, he is a fabulous narrator and so very funny in his presentation.
Profile Image for Karen.
574 reviews1,119 followers
August 24, 2019
Ok, I must admit... I had never heard of this David Sedaris guy, but damn he is entertaining!!
These stories, mostly about the himself and his partner Hugh, his parents and siblings ... and aging...just gave me the most laughter I’ve had in awhile! There is one about a stomach virus... I was just 🤣🤣🤣🤣
Great stuff here!
Profile Image for Candi.
614 reviews4,642 followers
March 16, 2020
4.5 stars

"Though there’s an industry built on telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age. The only perk I can see is that, with luck, you’ll acquire a guest room."

From the moment I read that opening sentence in my very first David Sedaris collection, I knew we would be pals for life. Not to mention that my friends here, who happen to have excellent taste, have all raved about him at one point or another. I may be late to the party once again, but I’m very glad I decided to show up. I love to laugh – it’s one of my favorite things to do, in fact. However, I admit to being a wee bit particular about the brand of humor that will successfully elicit a howl of laughter – well, David Sedaris did a bang-up job! Consider me a fan. I laughed (a lot!), empathized, and even cringed once or twice (I’ve stored a dead pet fish in my freezer before, but never what David Sedaris had his sister keep on ice for him!) Several times, I subjected my friends and family members to little snippets of his brilliant wit, whether they cared to listen or not.

"It’s so funny to be called an asshole by someone who doesn’t know you, but then again knows you so perfectly."

It seems nothing is off limits when it comes to what Sedaris will share with his readers. It was quite refreshing, actually. I don’t know if I could be that open, but I sure appreciate someone who is! I loved learning about his family. Anyone who has quirky relatives, always-changing family dynamics, or loved ones that drive you mad, can relate to his stories. There are even some sad moments and a whiff of regret in some of his essays but it never overwhelms. Laughter always wins the day and helps us carry on, doesn’t it? With all the fear and paranoia surrounding us right now, we would all do well to find something that lightens the mood. For my part, I’m going to close my eyes and imagine myself sitting on the beach at Sedaris’s island retreat while I’m stuck in the house for an indefinite amount of time.

"Another thing I love about the beach is sitting in the sun, mainly for the lazy kind of talk it generates. A person can say anything with lotion on, and I’m more than willing to listen."
Profile Image for Debbie.
441 reviews2,795 followers
August 24, 2019
5 cha cha cha stars!

Others already knew that Sedaris would take care of us. I’m new to the game. Long ago, I tried reading one of his collections and quickly ditched it. Huh, this guy is funny? Not to me. I figured we did not match—his jokes, my sensibilities, no go. Everyone has a different funny bone.

Well, I’m here to tell you, all my thoughts about different sensibilities and different funny bones are bull. Because damn if I’m not on my pogo stick again! I haven’t had so many laughs since Nora Ephron.

I was a little turned off when I started reading, though. Sedaris starts by saying that in middle age, the only perk is that with luck, you’ll acquire a guest room. Good thing he added “with luck,” because otherwise I would have been screaming, “elitist”! As it was, I thought, ho hum, who wants to read about a rich person having a guest room? Could we get any more boring?

The false Pygmy reeled me in…
Sedaris started seducing me as he described bizarre conversations. One sentence he overheard a guest utter:

“Now was that guy a Pygmy, or just a false Pygmy?”

Sedaris regrets that he didn’t ask the guest what a false Pygmy is. The guest is now dead, and Sedaris says Googling “false Pygmy” just wouldn’t be the same. See? I love that he eavesdropped, I love that he wondered, I love that he told us! And yes, of course, I Googled “false Pygmy,” lol. How could I not? And just to let you know, I found nothing anywhere close to false Pygmies. We’ll never know, sigh. Maybe an inside joke?

Meanwhile, how could I not get reeled into Sedaris’s world, with or without a false Pygmy? He picks up on everything absurd and runs with it. And there is absurdity everywhere. I love looking at the world through his eyes. He’s on alert, his mind all a-churn, waiting to hear the next bizarre thing being said, waiting to turn it into funny. Oh, how he gets me going—he makes me want to go on high alert, too, and ferret out all those absurdities just waiting to be plucked and spouted. But the truth is, I’m a chicken. Sedaris has no problem asking off-the-wall questions to strangers, and he has a ball doing it. He likes to shake it up. I would prefer to say I don’t chat it up with strangers because I’m shy. Or, full of self-righteousness, I could claim that I don’t want to impose, I don’t want to bug people. But let’s face it, I’m just a chicken through and through. Man, the great interactions I must miss!

I liked every single one of his essays. Some are about his family, and he is so good at describing both the unchi-ness and coolness that comes with having a close family. One of his strengths is his fascination with language and how comical communication can be; his chapter “Your English Is So Good” is one of my favorites. My other two favorites are “Stepping Out,” about his Fitbit obsession (absolutely hysterical), and the title story, Calypso. Here are a few lines from each. I could fill pages but I’m controlling myself:

From Your English Is So Good:

“Increasingly at Southern airports, instead of a ‘good-bye’ or ‘thank-you’ cashiers are apt to say, ‘Have a blessed day.’ This can make you feel like you’ve been sprayed against your will with God cologne.”

From Stepping Out:

“Since getting my Fitbit I’ve seen all kinds of things I wouldn’t normally have come across. Once it was a toffee-colored cow with two feet sticking out of her.”

From Calypso:

A church lady, a pillar in her community, got dementia:

“The last time Phil saw her, she leaned over in her wheelchair and at the top of her voice said, “Hitler wants my pussy.”

See? How can I not love this guy?

A woodcock or marmot, anyone?
So sometimes I get a little OCD, okay? In the middle of all this crack up, I started noticing that Sedaris mentions a lot of animals. Hm… I must write them all down (insists the listy voice in my head). I opened my Notes app and went to town. I listed like my life depended on it. I better not forget one, I fretted. I attacked the project with fervor! Too bad no one paid me, and too bad no one gives a shit! I, on the other hand, found it fascinating that he could mention 64 (!!!) different animals when he wasn’t even writing a book about critters! Well, two animals are featured—a snapping turtle and a fox—but why were the other 62 mentioned? Isn’t that just crazy? (Yes, I realize it’s probably less crazy than I am, she who is zealously typing up all the damn animals.) I tried to get the spelling right (spelling is pretty important to me), and yes, I started categorizing them—there are domesticated animals, farm animals, sea creatures, wild animals, etc. No, don’t worry, I wasn’t insane enough to rearrange the list and put them into categories in the app; I just made mental notes. I can do that later if I have to, lol. By the way, I will gladly share the list, if you’re curious. Of course I will.

Sharing tumors and turtles with Stephen Colbert
I hate spoilers, but I got myself into a “situation” (i.e., I experienced a gigantic spoiler) when I decided to watch a utube video of Sedaris on the Stephen Colbert show. I was about a third of the way through the book when I suddenly needed to see and hear this funny man in action. I absolutely loved the clip--he is just as funny in person. What I didn’t know is that he would describe the hysterical title story, Calypso. OMG what a story! It is insanely creepy absurd, so watch out if you hate gross. I will only say these words: snapping turtle and tumor. (LOL, no matter how hard you try, you will not be able to imagine their connection!) I know that for the rest of my life, if I hear snapping turtle or tumor, I will think of his story. Seriously. It’s a whopper.

Turns out I didn’t care one iota that I heard the anecdote before reading the story. His delivery is magnificent, and Colbert’s reaction is priceless. Here is the clip, in case you don’t mind a spoiler and you want to see and hear Sedaris, not just read his words. There are several hysterical story tidbits that didn’t make it into the book, so it’s worth watching at some point.


Final gush
Sedaris is a wise guy. He’s cynical and irreverent. To some people, he may be to too crude or rude or snobby, but I didn’t see him that way. Now that I’ve turned into a raving fan, I can only see him as a comedic genius. Plus, his obvious love of and loyalty to his family humanizes him. He’s an astute critic, a curious observer of the absurdity of everyday life, a language nut, a witty storyteller with an occasional penchant for weird. This funny guy has brilliant anecdotes, insights, and word packages, and I just couldn’t get enough. One jazzy read that had me hopping happily on my pogo stick. Cha cha cha!
Profile Image for Robin.
484 reviews2,624 followers
January 14, 2020
January isn't just a month. In Montreal, it's an ordeal. After only ten days of January under my belt, I'd already nursed two children through a truly nasty gastro virus (which always erupts in the middle of the night. Why, why, why?) I'd suffered through my own adult version of this hell a few days later. After came the ice storm, and subsequent power outage (and all I could think of was the brand new container of Cherry Garcia melting in the freezer).

This, just the first third of the month. Said month is just the first third of winter. God help me. How to survive, without resorting to hanging myself with the dog's leash?

Well, one way way I've found is reading David Sedaris. He's a magical writer, a man who weaves the poignant with hilarity. This collection has a more serious thread that runs through it - the loss of David's sister, Tiffany. You'll feel his grief, something so tender that he can only gently (but meaningfully) touch on it, something beyond comprehension but which now is an undeniable part of his family history. And you'll care about it, just like you care about all the stuff David Sedaris writes about, because somehow he makes his subjects so relatable, so human, that you're nodding and shaking your head along with him, and you might just shed a tear too.

He also talks at length about an older gent who shits himself on an airplane. So there's that... and if you're anything like me, you'll laugh, out loud, for about half an hour, and your kids will start looking at you funny. Hopefully though, you won't be laughing because you relate to that.

Oh, David Sedaris, he saved me from A Little Life some years ago, and now he's saved me from the first half of yet another Montreal January. I heart you, David! How can I ever repay you?
Profile Image for Liz.
2,028 reviews2,537 followers
August 19, 2018

Ok, so first off, I was laughing out loud within three pages of the first chapter. Well, laughing and kind of gagging. Eating your turtle’s nutrition bar with dead flies? Ugh. I’ll let David tell you the whole story. And then in the very next chapter, he talks about his sister’s suicide. This is a book that hits you with all the emotions. It’s the kind of book you want to share with friends, to read paragraph after paragraph out loud to anyone within hearing. There’s lots here. Not just the humor, but the revelations that come with a certain age, of dealing with loss, of aging parents, of a relationship that has been going on for years.

Sedaris is pretty much f***in crazy, but he also starts describing other crazy people and I’ll realize I’m in that category. And he’ll describe me down to a T. Each to his own!

Highly recommend this book! It’s a quick read but one that packs a lot of meat into its pages. My thanks to netgalley and Little, Brown for a copy of this book.

Profile Image for *Layali*.
536 reviews90 followers
August 22, 2018
Unpopular opinion here.

Hypocritical, pretentious, and underwhelming. Best words to describe this book.

It took me so long to get through this short selection of essays. I heard amazing things about it, and that it was hilarious. I had a couple chuckles, but overall I was completely and utterly BORED. I loathed picking this book up, and I considered DNF'ing it at 50 pages. I should have.

It's literally a bind up of a bunch of random thoughts by the author, most of which come off as dejected and distasteful in my opinion. Some of the content could be interpreted as offensive to some readers, and there is a lot of political talk in which the author is very clear on his opinions which again comes off as pretentious and superior.

This whole thing just comes off as an "I can write whatever I want and still sell books" theme. I have not despised a book so much all year, and I'm so glad that I didn't pick this for one of my BOTM picks. I probably would have set it on fire.
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,052 reviews49.2k followers
June 9, 2022
i remember absconding with a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day from my parent's collection in high school and being absolutely tickled by Sedaris' writing.

this one was certainly darker in theme but still elicited out loud laughs from me. i just genuinely love this author's vignettes.
Profile Image for da AL.
366 reviews365 followers
September 6, 2018
Combine all the mixed feelings you could ever have about life as well as family -- make your reader laugh, think, and cry -- and then add in the same way the suicide of a sibling -- only Sedaris can do this...
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,449 reviews7,561 followers
April 19, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

To say that this is a biased review might be the understatement of the decade. Many of you are already familiar with my love for the Sedaris family. It began with Amy and Strangers With Candy before I discovered her brother was a writer. Having now read all but one of his collections – and more recently re-listening to several of them during my commute – I have no shame in admitting I am completely smitten with every single one of the Sedaris clan. So much so that when a conversation between two people who didn’t enjoy Sedaris popped up on my feed last week I practically had to cut my fingers off to not interject with a "butbutbutbut" and nearly had myself convinced that the parties must be aliens and I should probably report them to the proper authorities. Then I remembered that people are allowed to have opinions and since David himself is probably well aware that he’s not everyone’s cuppa I should resign myself to that fact too. All that being said, I obviously need mental help and my rating should probably be taken with a grain dumptruck of salt.

Calypso IS good, though. A stand out, even. If you are a fan this should rise to the top of the ranks. With a reoccurring theme of visits with family (and Carol) at home in Sussex as well as at the “Sea Section” beach house in North Carolina, Sedaris delivers both humorous as well as poignant memories in spades – and even though I know I’m not supposed to quote an advanced copy as anything I was privileged enough to read could still end up on the cutting room floor, this little line sums things up perfectly . . . .

“Ours is the only club I’ve ever wanted to be a member of, so I couldn’t imagine quitting.”

Oh how I would love to be a fly on the wall during their “club meetings.”

By this point in my life I’ve actually received numerous offers by friends to attend one of David Sedaris’ public readings which are put on pretty much yearly here by a local bookstore and held at a giant, beautiful, non-denominational church. While I’m flattered that people like me enough to voluntarily spend time with me without being paid to do so, my response is always no. First, because of other humans . . . .

And second, but more importantly, because I’m terrified I would become this . . . .

At this point I don’t think I could settle for less than Thanksgiving at the Sea Section (I still agree with Paul that the Conch Sucker should have been the winner) on Emerald Isle (on the West side of the house where the visitors stay, of course - I’m not psycho). It is there we will binge-watch My 600-lb Life. Afterwards I will help dig a hole in the sand for the turkey deep fryer to sit in and make sure I have plenty of cash on hand to tip Amy while she performs my spa treatment after I kick alllllllll of their asses at Sorry.

I’m also fairly certain that I need a piece of driftwood art in my life like the one that will be featured on the cover . . . .

One-eyed raccoons. Such judgey little assholes, right? But you can’t deny the other option is sheer perfection . . . .

Oh, before I forget. I can't sign off until I mention the part about pants shitting . . . .

You might not have to love David Sedaris in order to be my friend, but you do have to find people crapping their drawers hilarious. No exceptions.

Man I can’t wait to listen to this one. Every Star.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Hope you don’t regret it!


Note to Little Brown from my husband: Please give my wife the new Jason Sudakis book so she'll shut up about it already.

Note to husband from myself: Please don't try to help ever again.
Profile Image for Michael.
655 reviews966 followers
April 20, 2020
A collection of twenty-one personal essays on approaching middle age with humor and hope, Calypso stitches together the poignant and the satirical. Sedaris takes on a wide array of lighthearted topics, from fitbits to vacation homes, as well as more serious subjects, like illness, addiction, and death. The author’s wit shines no matter what he discusses, though, and he paints a vivid portrait of his family across the entire memoir. The concluding essays focusing on his sister’s suicide and his mother’s alcoholism are especially moving. A few of the middle essays drag on, but otherwise Calypso is absorbing and irreverent.
Profile Image for Jean-Luke.
Author 1 book384 followers
July 12, 2021
Oh David--I'll pretend we're on a first name basis, and if it sounds like I'm swooning it's because I probably am--making me laugh at what people in others countries yell when they get cut off in traffic. I feel like feather-haired Emma Chambers in Notting Hill when she says to Julia Roberts We're best friends already then. How have I never read anything by you before? I'd heard of you, your shelf was always overflowing in the bookstore where I used to work, but it took a stranger dropping your latest book in a Little Free Library for me to pick it up. Why would anyone get rid of this book? I can only assume it's because they wanted to share you with the world. Has anyone ever called you the American Alan Bennett? What can I say, you speak to me. And I don't mean on audiobook. Maybe for the next one I should go back to your first collection, just to see if I like older Sedaris--if I just say David nobody's going to know which David I'm talking about--better? I have a suspicion that I might.
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,486 reviews12.8k followers
July 31, 2018
David Sedaris’ latest collection of humorous essays, Calypso, isn’t up there among his best books but it’s not a bad read either.

The most impressive essays were on his sister Tiffany and mother Sharon. Not that they’re exploitative – Dave’s the celeb, not his immediate family (except for Amy, his actress sister) – though they are revelatory. Tiffany committed suicide in May 2013 just before her fiftieth birthday and Sedaris talks about her troubled relationship with the family, the squalid conditions she lived her and her mental problems.

Despite the fact that he, like the rest of his family, clearly didn’t get along with her, he remains tactful and respectfully sympathetic when writing about her. He’s not afraid to make himself look bad either, when he talks about (though he didn’t know it at the time) his final meeting with her when she showed up at one of his readings and he asked a security guard to shut the door on her. The gossip in me wanted to know more about Tiffany as he didn’t really reveal much of her personal life but I understand his choice to be somewhat reserved.

If you’ve been a long-time reader of Sedaris you’ll be familiar with all his family members, so it’s quite shocking to hear after so many books that his beloved and witty mother Sharon was an alcoholic who really fell apart once all her kids moved out. He explores his complicated feelings about why no-one in the family intervened on her destructive behaviour or why it was never addressed, even decades after her death from cancer. It was a fantastic piece.

But wait - isn’t Sedaris known for light-hearted, comedic stories? He is, those were the two serious parts of the book, I just thought they were also the best ones here. And unfortunately I didn’t find anything in the other stories all that funny. There was a bit about his Greek grandmother in The Silent Treatment that genuinely made me laugh though: "I remember Yiayia saying some pretty rough things about black people, which is odd given her limited vocabulary. It's like she took English lessons from a Klan member but quit after the second day."

Nor are any of the other stories that memorable or interesting. Sedaris buys a vacation house on the shores of Emerald Isle, North Carolina, for his family to use; he gets a Fitbit and becomes obsessed with walking; he and Amy go shopping for crazy clothes in Japan; he has a tumour cut off the side of his head by a fan/doctor that he plans to feed to a turtle; there’s a fox called Carol who lives in the Sussex countryside by his English house; he worries about shitting his pants; he thinks spirits are bunkum; he gets depressed over Trump’s election; and he gets mildly excited about Jim Comey vacationing nearby on Emerald Isle.

It’s really not that much. To be fair, a lot of Sedaris’ stories are that light and fluffy but they’re also usually entertaining and/or amusing, and too often I found myself sighing and wondering when the story would get good.

Still, David Sedaris has this very genial narrative voice that’s pleasant to read and his writing in Calypso is as artful as it’s ever been. And while there were some enjoyable essays and parts of others that were good, the book was full of too many forgettable, boring stories thin on substance to say it numbers as among his better efforts.
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews113k followers
November 26, 2019
Compared to the other book I've read by him (Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim), I realize that I appreciate this book better because it feels more honest and real while still remaining funny. Corduroy painted a picture of a quirky little family; Calypso dives into more serious themes like death, aging, and suicide, while maintaining a dark sense of humor throughout. I like the natural balance between both - it feels innately human and real. I couldn't rate it 5 stars because I still think that Sedaris can dive deeper. There are definitely complicated family relationships in his life, and lurking thoughts he's had regarding mortality, but these subjects are planted as seeds without being given time to grow into something more thought-provoking. This is probably more of Sedaris's style though, with simple short-form essays that give you just enough of an idea and let you make what you will from it, but I personally prefer a deep-dive into these topics and his brain so that I can be left with more impact.
Profile Image for Victoria.
412 reviews320 followers
March 23, 2019
One writes out of one thing only--one’s own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give. This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art. James Baldwin

I have listened to all of Sedaris’ books and this is by far his funniest, but also his most heartrending book to date offering up all that we have come to love from the bizarre to the bleak; the pithy to the petulant; and all delivered with that same droll, yet self-effacing delivery. Because make no mistake, if you read versus listen to David Sedaris, then you are missing out on another dimension of the stories he shares.

With 21 essays, most of which made me laugh to the point of tears, he shares with us snippets from his daily life, moments of absurdity, instances both familiar and not of an imperfect family and all the while digging deeper to find the hilarity in the wounds. Because the death of his mother and the tragic suicide of his sister is evident throughout these pages, it seems to me that he is sharing these losses in the only way he knows how, by showing us that laughter can heal or at least make us forget for a little while.

Allan Cummings wrote in his review for The New York Times…’Death and family are what this book is all about. Maybe what all David Sedaris’ work is about? Maybe what all good writing has to be about for they are really the only constants in all our lives? We can avoid neither and the existence of both reminds us that we are no different from one another.’

I wish I had the talent to have written such an eloquent statement, but I’m happy to quote Mr. Cummings for his articulateness in distilling this book to its essence.
Profile Image for Jenny.
269 reviews96 followers
August 19, 2018
David Sedaris does it again with Calypso. It’s funny, intelligent and brilliant. He’s honest with his feelings and not afraid to share the good, bad and ugly. His observations are candid, weird, perverse and humorous but honest which makes his books worth the read.
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,340 followers
August 24, 2019
I already miss David Sedaris. I finished listening to Calypso as an audiobook narrated by Sedaris yesterday, and I would have been happy to keep listening for weeks, maybe months... In a way, my love of his personal essays is bizarre. There’s a fair bit of revolting bodily content and he circles over some of the same family dynamics more than once. But, oh my! What a gift with words! And what a gift for scrutinizing himself, his family, life and the universe! Nothing seems to be beyond his interest, and in his adept hands it all seemed so interesting. Funny and wry, yes. But also real and occasionally gut punching. This was my first experience with Sedaris. It won’t be my last. Thanks for the recommendation from GR friend Debbie.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,146 reviews2,532 followers
September 9, 2018
4.5 stars

Wry and witty, this collection of essays is both hysterically funny one moment and heartbreakingly poignant the next. Nothing is taboo, and topics range from the serious to the ridiculous: aging, family, bodily functions, suicide, his Fitbit obsession (which I could relate to, having been known to 'house walk' late at night to get to my target), social commentary, literal potty humor, and much, much more. His powers of observations are spot on and he says it all without a filter. As in any collection, there were some essays I enjoyed more than others and a couple that I think would have been better left out.

I have this in HB as a BOTM selection but decided to listen on audio after reading rave reviews of the author reading his own work. I’m so glad I did. His comedic timing was perfect and my one complaint is that it wasn’t longer because I was left wanting more.

This the first book I’ve read by Sedaris so I can’t compare it to his previous works but I will definitely consider picking up another book by the author.

Recommended by those who like wry humor and who aren’t easily offended by some R-rated material.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,347 reviews4,864 followers
January 11, 2022

Space here is limited, so to see more pics go to my blog.

Humorist David Sedaris is almost always funny, but some of the stories in this book - which is largely about his family - are melancholy and nostalgic. In addition to recounting humorous incidents in his life Sedaris writes about his sister's suicide; his mother's alcoholism; and his father's disapproval. The following are examples of his anecdotes.

Sedaris grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina with his mother Sharon, father Lou, and five siblings: Paul, Amy, Gretchen, Lisa, and Tiffany.

The Sedaris Clan

Tiffany was a troubled soul and committed suicide in May, 2013, a few weeks before her 50th birthday. Tiffany was always difficult to be around, being disagreeable and prone to act out. At the time of Tiffany's death, she and David hadn't spoken in 8 years, but he knew her life was chaotic.

Tiffany Sedaris

When Tiffany took her life her mother had been dead for more than 20 years, having died from lung cancer in 1991. The rest of the family came together at a rented house on Emerald Isle, off the coast of North Carolina, where they had been vacationing for decades.

The relatives speculated about why Tiffany had committed suicide, but no one could explain it. Tiffany had left her family long before, and always made excuses for not coming home for holidays or summer vacations. Tiffany squandered her share of a family inheritance; became homeless; raided garbage cans for things to sell; took to bartering instead of using money; and seemed almost proud of being poor.

During the family visit the idea of a permanent vacation home came up, and David and his partner Hugh spontaneously went out and bought a beach house on Emerald Isle - to serve as a holiday spot for their clans. 90-year-old Lou Sedaris wanted to name the house Tiffany but David and Hugh settled on Sea Section, which is "beachy and a pun."

Both David and Hugh's relatives use the house for holidays, and Sedaris includes anecdotes about their visits in the book.

David Sedaris and his partner Hugh Hamrick


Sedaris is a relatively short man, and feels comfortable enough to joke about it. He writes, "At 5' 5" I never give much thought to my height until I do. Whenever I come across a man my size at the airport say, or in a hotel lobby, I squeak the way a one-year-old does when it spots a fellow baby. It's all I can do not to toddle over and embrace the guy." Though David isn't bothered by his height he takes exception when people refer to him as bonsai-sized, diminutive, or elfin....which makes it sound like he fits in a teacup.


Copying a friend, Sedaris got a Fitbit and started out with the recommended goal of 10,000 steps daily, about four miles - easy to knock out in a day. When David traveled for appearances, he would take the stairs at airports instead of escalators, and avoid moving sidewalks.

Over time David escalated to 12,000, 15,000, 25,000, 30,000, and finally 65,000 steps a day, over 25 miles. Far from being a waste of time, Sedaris would pick up litter around his Sussex, England home with a trash grabber and listen to audiobooks and podcasts. The neighborhood was cleared of chip bags, dead squirrels, drink containers, used condoms, and once a tiny strap on dildo....which led to much amusing speculation.


Twice in 2014 Sedaris went to Tokyo with his sister Amy, and since David had been there seven times already, he was able to lead Amy to all the best places - by which he means stores. When they went in 2016, David's boyfriend Hugh and sister Gretchen went as well. The group rented a house near one of their favorite stores, Kapital, and went shopping.

Kapital in Tokyo

Sedaris writes, "The clothes [Kapital] sell are new but appear to be previously worn, perhaps by someone who was shot or stabbed and then thrown off a boat. Everything looks as if it had been pulled off the evidence rack at a murder trial." David wonders "if they put them in a drier with broken glass and rusty steak knives."

Shirt sold at Kapital

Sedaris and the others visited all four Kapital stores in Tokyo, and David bought a flannel shirt made of "five differently patterned flannel shirts, ripped apart and then stitched together into a kind of doleful Frankentop." He also purchased three hats, which he likes "to wear stacked up, all at the same time." Gretchen found a hat that seemed to have been "modeled after a used toilet brush," and added it to her pile.

Sedaris observes that to him, Amy, and Gretchen, "there is nothing but shopping", and they "would never choose to visit a park, or a temple, or some cultural institution where they don't sell things." David describes some of his additional purchases in Tokyo stores, which include dress pants that come up to his nipples (which cost as much as a MacBook air); culottes; a denim smock (which Hugh calls a dress); drawstring jeans; and more.

David Sedaris showing off clothes he purchased in Tokyo


At age 46 David's brother Paul eats much the way he did when he was 9 months old. Sedaris observes that Paul's "nickname used to be the rooster; now we call him the juiceter." He adds, "Everything goes into his Omega J8006: kale, carrots, celery, some kind of powder scraped off the knuckles of bees, and it all comes out dun colored and the texture of apple sauce."


Sedaris gets annoyed with store clerks who try to sell you extra things. He observes, "The practice of pushing more stuff on you is called upselling, and it's one of those things that once you notice it you can't stop noticing it." He goes on, "At the airport in Baton Rouge a few years back I ordered a coffee. 'Do you need a pastry to go with that?' the young man behind the counter asked. I wasn't too shy to order the coffee, I said. So what makes you think I'd hold back on a bear claw if I wanted one? The young man shrugged, 'We have danish too'."

Irritated, David eschewed that vendor and moved over to Dunkin Donuts, where he told the counter woman, "I want coffee, just coffee, period." The woman crossed her arms and said, No cup? No sugar? No milk?

Sedaris wryly notes, "This always happens when I try to make a point."


Even as an adult Sedaris finds it difficult to talk to his father, a reticence that may stem from their tetchy relationship when David was a child. Young David felt his dad was critical and didn't like him, and found it impossible to get on his dad's good side. Sedaris writes, "And so eventually I quit trying and founded the opposition party, which I still lead to this day. Whatever he's for I'm against....almost."

Sedaris admits his own youthful behavior was less than stellar. Young David ruined a pastel family portrait by spritzing it with blood from raw beef; he lied and stole money from his father; he made his sisters cry; and he purposely clogged the toilet by flushing down empty cardboard toilet rolls. This particular naughtiness ended when David was forced to pull out the debris....a task that scarred him for life.

Lou Sedaris's critiques extended into David's adulthood. Sedaris writes, "As an adult I regularly return to Raleigh and read out loud. My family will attend and afterward without fail my father will say 'That was nice and everything but it wasn't sold out. I counted thirty empty seats.' Sedaris writes, "This is him all over. The place accommodates more than 2200 people but all he can see are the unoccupied chairs."


Some of Sedaris's acquaintances are conspiracy theorists. One long-time friend told Sedaris with great authority that "Hillary Clinton is a member of the Illuminati and that she and her husband have killed scores of people, including children, whom they also sexually molested." The friend went on to say that Queen Elizabeth had the entertainer Prince killed, and the website that divulged this information also noted that the Queen told another Illuminati member that "before the year ends, three more world famous musicians must die."

Sedaris observes, "My friend gets almost feverish when he talks about these people and the way they're all connected. Queen Elizabeth leads to JayZ leads to the Centers for Disease Control leads to the fake Sandy Hook shooting and the way the government staged 9/11." David is amazed that his friend "honestly believes all this and is frustrated that I won't believe it as well."

After Trump was elected, David joined his family on Emerald Isle for Thanksgiving and had a great screaming fight with his Republican father who yelled at one point, "Donald Trump is not an asshole." Sedaris notes, "I find this funny but at the same time surprising. Regardless of whether you voted for him, I thought the President Elect's identity as a despicable human being was something we could all agree on. I mean he pretty much ran on it. "


A TV show Sedaris likes is 'Intervention', where real life alcoholics and drug addicts are seen going about their business. The show makes David think of his mother Sharon, who was an alcoholic.

David loved his mother, and recalls "She was a lady. By this I mean that she never wore pants, just skirts and dresses. She never left the house without makeup on and her hair styled. Sober she was cheerful and charismatic." David's mom liked to joke around, tell stories, and get people laughing.

Young David and Amy Sedaris with their mother Sharon

After too many drinks, though, Sharon Sedaris got belligerent. David writes " 'The little bitch,' my mother would say, her voice slurred, referring to someone she might have spoken to that afternoon or maybe five years earlier, a shop clerk, a neighbor.....'talking to ME that way, like that, like I'm nothing'." David recalls that his mom would slam around, reliving old arguments, and late in life embraced the word f**k.

David and his siblings considered it not really her "but a kind of virus talking." The family was sometimes embarrassed by Sharon, but never confronted her, never asked what they could do to help her. David is immensely regretful and notes, "I'm forever thinking of all our missed opportunities. Six kids and a husband and not one of us spoke up."


Sedaris recalls the last time he saw his sister Tiffany. It was at the stage door at Symphony Hall in Boston where he'd just finished a show. David writes, "I was getting ready to sign books when I heard her say 'David, David, it's me Tiffany'."

Tiffany Sedaris as a young woman

Sedaris goes on, "We hadn't spoken in four years at that point, and I was shocked my her appearance. Tiffany always looked like my mother when she was young. Now she looked like my mother when she was old. She held up a paper bag with the Starbucks logo on it. 'I have something for you.'

Sedaris told the security guard to close the stage door. David remembers, "He shut the door in my sister's face and I never saw her or spoke to her again. Not when she was evicted from her apartment, not when she was raped, not when she was hospitalized after her first suicide attempt. She was, I told myself, someone else's problem. I couldn't deal with her anymore."

Following Tiffany's suicide, Sedaris was consumed with guilt, and his family consoled him. David writes, “They were just telling me what I needed to hear, something to ease my conscience and make me feel that underneath it all I’m no different from anyone else. They’ve always done that for me, my family. It’s what keeps me coming back.”


Sedaris is always chatting with people to get material for his appearances and books. Thus, he asked a number of people in different countries what they would say to someone who cut them off in traffic or otherwise irritated them.

A Copenhagen resident told David, We're not big on cursing so we say, "Why don't you run around in my ass?"

In the Netherlands, if someone drives in a crazy way, people call them "a cholera sufferer", "a cancer whore", "a cancer slut" or "a dirty typhus mongoloid." To this, David observes that in America we would say 'person with Down's syndrome', though that might be too long when passing someone on the highway.

A Vienna curse is, "Why don't you find a spot on my ass that you would like to lick and lick it", which is probably quicker and less awkward to say in German. And a bad female driver might be called "a blood sausage."

One of the best curses is Bulgarian, where they say, "May you build a house from your kidney stones." Sedaris notes, "Well FINALLY I thought. This is essentially wishing someone an eternity of gut-wrenching pain. Those Bulgarians don't fool around."

Some of the most crass curses are Romanian, where they say, "I shit in your mother's mouth"....or other such 'mom' remarks.


The book includes several stories about Sedaris's father Lou, who's still going strong at the age of 94.

Elderly Lou Sedaris

Sedaris admits to having hard feelings because his father cut him out of his will. 'You told me you wanted to be cut out', he'd said five years earlier, when I confronted him about it. "When?" I asked. 'I don't know but you did."

David writes, "There was no way on earth that this was true. In that respect my father is very much like the current President...."There were a million and a half people at my inauguration. The biggest crowd ever. A million and a half." It's hard to even call it lying. It's a form of insistence. 'This is the way I need it to be god damn it."


There are plenty more humorous anecdotes in the book, about turtles, lipomas, plane trips, marriage proposals, doctors, friends, ghosts, fortune tellers, Donald Trump, and more. Sedaris's best stories, though, are about his family. Let's hope this loving clan generates many more tales.
Profile Image for Hilary .
2,237 reviews398 followers
November 7, 2018
2.5 stars. Chatty, mildly amusing memories about life, family life, relationships and illness. I found my self skimming in some places and mildly interested and amused in others. This might have more appeal or relevance to US readers perhaps.
Profile Image for Carole.
489 reviews110 followers
July 12, 2019
Calypso by David Sedaris makes you feel like you are spending time with an old friend. He discusses family issues, life, death, his summer home named Sea Section, ordinary life, etc. Every sentence is perfectly formed and you will laugh and you will cry but most of the time you will cry while laughing. If you can, try the audiobook version which is read by the author. He is an accomplished writer and reads his material with panache. I enjoyed Calypso very much.
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,445 reviews335 followers
May 11, 2018
As the Detroit Symphony Orchestra concert was airing on Livestream I opened my ebook and began to read. I was soon laughing out loud. A few paragraphs later I laughed even longer and harder. I had to read out loud to my hubby. And then I knew. I could not read Calypso by David Sedaris while listening to the symphony.

I could not read it in bed. I would laugh my husband awake. When could I read it? During the day, with the windows open to let in the fresh spring air, so inviting after a very, very, long winter? What would the neighbors think?

Sedaris, Sedaris. You are such a problem, I thought.

Then I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride because the next story was about David's youngest sister's suicide. All of the siblings had pulled away from the family to "forge our own identities," he explained; except Tiffany stayed away. And later in the book, he remembers his mother's alcoholism and her early death, his father's eccentricities, living with a defunct stove so his kids could inherit more money.

You laugh, you shudder, you feel slightly ill, and you feel sad. Because Sedaris is ruthless enough to write about life, real life, his life in particular, and we all see our own families and own lives in his stories.

I loved Sedaris's chapter on the terrible tyranny of his Fitbit, and how he was adamant that he got to keep his fatty tumor to feed to a turtle. That crazy moment with his dad drove past a man exposing himself and then u-turned to take another look, his young daughter in the car.

Looking at family photos, Sedaris recalled "that moment in a family's life when everything is golden" and the future held promise. In middle age, looking forward ten years "you're more likely to see a bedpan than a Tony Award."

Ouch. Too close to home, David.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,449 reviews7,561 followers
August 20, 2018
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of Calypso from Little Brown, but KNEW I would have to hear the audio version in order for my experience to be complete. I started this last Friday on my commute and remained plugged in on the way to and throughout my youngest's double-header on Saturday. I'm not a real chatty person to begin with (my husband even bought me a "Do Not Disturb" sun hat to wear to games in order to enable my introversion) - but even without the hat the gods smiled upon me and I was left alone with my earbuds until the entire book was finished.

This morning I got in the car and started it all over again from the beginning. There just aren't any words. Is it possible to feel nostalgic for a family you don't even belong to? At this point I feel I've been allowed to be such a part of David's life that Amy, Lisa, Gretchen, Tiffany (rest her soul) and "The Rooster" . . . . errrr, I mean "The Juicester" (who has managed to become my favorite) are somehow all related to me as well. If you've never experienced Sedaris, I don't recommend starting here. Instead I'd suggest you pick up Dress You Family In Corduroy and Denim or When You Are Engulfed In Flames. You'll know right away if you are a fan or not. If so, you'll run through his works in short order and find a giant tribe of middle-aged women who will embrace you into our fold waiting for you at the finish line. If not, you might want to keep that to yourself - pre-menopausal hormones can be a real bitch.


Because unlike what Bobby Bouché's momma might have you believe . . . .

Happiness truly comes from listening to a petite former elf tell you about his family.
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,164 reviews511 followers
August 11, 2018
I won't call David Sedaris a comedian. He's not. He does not try to be funny. No, he is more of a satirist, a humorist. A fine observer of life's absurdities and oddities which provide the fuel to his many beloved, hilarious reflections. He doesn't like ghost stories and sharing recipes, but love fat people. People with 'phobian' resentments towards them should just shut up, he says (and he politely does not add that they should get over themselves, like I would have done).

David is no linguist, but he's a master of words. And languages. He has a bone to pick with the word Awesome. The great wall of China is awesome. But that's about it. Any other use of the word angers him.

He's favorite shopping place is Japan. January is Japanuary, when he visits the country for the umpteenth time and buy weird clothes such as the clown trousers which made him $1400 poorer and comes up to his nipples. He needs suspenders to wear it. He's a 'wee' man, he says, and clothes in Japan just fits so much better...

He is an American living in England now, cleaning up the environment around him while enslaving himself to his Fitbit.

I was peeking sideways to mine lying closely locked up in a little 'casket' in the bookshelf behind my bed. Mine had "R.I.P." written all over it. I had enough of its bossy-ness! But David's lured him on to wander the streets of his British neighborhood in West Sussex, while waiting for his Fitbit to vibrate and congratulate him on covering twenty odd miles for the day. He just craves the vibration when he's done well. In the process he cleans up the trash, spending hours every day doing that, and even had a garbage truck named after him by his city council! He had to come up with a nickname for the truck. It was called "Pig Pen Sedaris". And he bought a special outfit in Japan, for his daily obsessive compulsive Fitbit mission in Britain. "My Fitbit thinks I can do better"—and man, does it work!
On foot, nothing escapes my attention: a potato-chip bag stuffed into the hollow of a tree, an elderly mitten caught in the embrace of a blackberry bush, a mud-coated matchbook at the bottom of a ditch. Then there’s all the obvious stuff: the cans and bottles and great greasy sheets of paper fish-and-chips come wrapped in. You can tell where my territory ends and the rest of England begins. It’s like going from the Rose Garden in Sissinghurst to Fukushima after the tsunami. The difference is staggering...

...Other animals I’ve seen on my walks are foxes and rabbits. I’ve stumbled upon deer, stoats, a hedgehog, and more pheasant than I could possibly count. All the badgers I find are dead, run over by cars and eventually feasted upon by carrion-eating slugs, which are themselves eventually flattened and feasted upon by other slugs.
It was first the toffee-colored cow with two feet sticking out of her that reminded him of his kidney stones. The excruciating pain almost did him in. Yet, this cow lay down for a few minutes, then stood up and continued grazing.
"Really?" I said to her, "You can't go five minutes without eating?"

"Do you think she knows there's a baby at the end of this?" I asked Maja after she returned.
His Fitbit enlarged his territory which needed cleaning up.
We saw David in Arundel picking up a dead squirrel with his grabbers,” the neighbors told Hugh. “We saw him outside Steyning rolling a tire down the side of the road,” “…in Pulborough dislodging a pair of Y-fronts from a tree branch.” Before the Fitbit, once we’d eaten dinner, I was in for the evening. Now, though, as soon as I’m finished with the dishes, I walk to the pub and back, a distance of 3,895 steps. There are no streetlights where we live, and the houses I pass at eleven p.m. are either dark or very dimly lit. I often hear owls and the flapping of woodcocks disturbed by the beam of my flashlight.
On his fortieth birthday he had to give up something. It was jeans and dip. He was not ready to give up smoking yet. Watch this interview with David Sedaris by one of my all-time favorite late-night comedians, Craig Ferguson.

David can take virtually any subject and turn it into something meaningful, universally relevant, funny and deeply disturbing, all at the same time. This book was my first encounter with this mensch. So many similarities in our outlook on life, but many differences as well. The author had me rolling around with laughter on his Fitbit obsession and his lipoma.
If you were to throw a lipoma to a dog, he’d swallow it in a single bite, then get that very particular look on his face that translates to Fuck. Was that a tumor? There’d be something to see. Turtles, on the other hand, never change expression and live with fewer regrets.
All through the book I had this bouts of giggles when incredulity fused with astonishment. He is, to me, a much kinder version of Christopher Hitchenson, so immaculately schooled in the American political correctness, but with a touch of enough arrogance to overrule it when he sees fit.

That's the refreshing honesty flowing rampantly through this text, elevating him to a much higher level of consciousness.
When visitors leave, I feel like an actor watching the audience file out of the theater, and it was no different with my sisters. The show over, Hugh and I returned to lesser versions of ourselves. We're not a horrible couple, but we have our share of fights, the type that can start with a misplaced sock and suddenly be about everything...

...At five-five, I never give much thought to my height until I do. Whenever I come across a man my size—at the airport, say, or in a hotel lobby—I squeak the way a one-year-old does when it spots a fellow baby. It's all I can do not to toddle over and embrace the guy.
His narrative is eloquent and humorous, yet underscored by the anomalies and sadness of family and life. His clown trousers maybe more than just a prop feeding his artistic passions. While working through his mid-life challenges in his writing, he also brings a new appreciation to the reader of the little moments we would otherwise have missed. And perhaps his attitude and take on these instances in time might just convince us to do the same: bring back laughter where it is needed the most. Sometimes laughter is the next best thing. Reading authors such as David Sedaris is the first. Well, that is, if you push sliced-bread and ice-cream aside and forget about children :-)

I will absolutely read Sedaris again.

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1,057 reviews364 followers
October 16, 2018
Not a full blown review, simply sharing that I adored this book. I don't normally read "compilations" or even straight up humor books but this one caught my attention and kept it until the end. I read it in a matter hours and spent the majority of that time LMAO!

All the stars for David Sedaris and his far too funny writing!
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