Listen to David Sedaris – the Christmas Elf

Not long ago I happily listened to David Sedaris in person when he was on stage in Hawaii; listening to Sedaris’ humorous twang is the best Christmas present you can give yourself.

National Public Radio (NPR) often broadcasts one of his short essays in his Santaland Diaries for Christmas on its Morning Edition.

gettyimages-121693538_wide-c0d6eff165889478fc5410961250f07b2259ef6d-s800-c85.jpgThis Christmas Eve, after you read “The Night Before Christmas,” listen to Crumpet, who recounts the true-life tale of an out-of-work writer’s stint as a Macy’s Department Store elf – David Sedaris as an Elf.








I Am Ready to Listen

My Audible credits are piling up, and I decided to use them all before I cancel my subscription.  Although my library is full of books I have yet to hear, I am not discouraged. Short British mysteries, Maggie Smith and Julia Child biographies have kept me company as I walk, but heavy plots requiring attention tend to collect moss – started, stopped, ignored, replaced by a library book in print.  Flanagan’s Road to the Deep North still lingers – waiting to be heard on a long flight with no escape.

Five credits – five books:

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  1. Joanna Kavenna called Ali Smith’s first in a four-part series – Autumn – “a beautiful, poignant symphony of memories, dreams and transient realities…” in her review for The Guardian.  A symphony?  A candidate for an audiobook.
  2. Recently published Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders has a cast of 166 voices, including David Sedaris.
  3. Since I am number 279 on the library wait list, John Grisham’s The Whistler is a good candidate, promising fast-paced thrills.
  4. Melk Wiking’s Little Book of Hygge looked like a quick way to get life-style advice when I skimmed it in the bookstore, especially coupled with Rinzler’s The Buddha Walks into a Bar (already on my iPod).
  5. Finally (possibly because I have been reading articles about challenging the brain to prevent Alzheimer’s lately), the last book is French Short Stories (in French, of course).

Now I am ready to cancel my subscription.  But wait, those clever marketers have offered me a reprieve – 90 days on hold, a pause instead of a stop.  If I have not listened to my last five books by Spring, I may have the courage to really cancel.

Travel to Shop

luxuryrow-header-tmb  The main street in Waikiki is known more for its shops than for its obscured view of the beach and ocean.  Japanese tourists have long been the mainstay of the economy as they flit in their stilettos from Chanel and Tiffany to Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, carrying bags of luxury along the sidewalk.  According to author Dave Sedaris, Japan is his preferred place to shop.   In Tokyo, shopping is not an art – it’s a sport.

In the New York Times travel section, “In Transit,” Nell McShane Wulfhart interviews David Sedaris for a list of places to stay (the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara – “everyone there looks like Mitt and Ann Romney”) to his dream trip (to India – “I want to go to India for three hours.  So I can leave when I get thirsty, and then I can get back on the plane without any risk of getting a stomach bug.”).  But his favorite travel activity is shopping; forget the monuments and art.

As a seasoned traveler, Sedaris offers a list of must-haves for every trip, including:

  • Vicks VapoRub  (Use on your upper lip to diffuse cloying perfume of fellow travelers.)
  • An extendable backscratcher (to relieve the itchiness brought on by dry air in planes).
  • A wooden hanger that folds in half to dry shirts (because “in a crummy hotel you can’t disconnect the hangers.”)
  • Set Editions’ Stop Talking Cards (useful to give at appropriate times).Set-Editions-Stop-Talking-Cards

Related Review:  Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

Click, Clack, Moo – Cows That Type

Does anyone type on a typewriter any more?

Doreen Cronin’s delightful children’s book – Click, Clack, Moo-Cows That Type – was outdated by the time it was published in 2000, but it is a testament to the power of the written word in these days of leaving electronic messages.  With art by Betsy Lewin, Cronin’s picture book has literate cows and chickens with demands for better living conditions written to Farmer Brown in typed notes.  With the duck as the mediator, all ends well – with a funny twist at the end.  Adults will appreciate the innuendo; children will like the whimsy – and might have a few questions about that vintage relic that has been replaced by a computer keyboard.

Typewriters offer nostalgia and a little magic to the final product – but not always.  David Sedaris only recently converted to a Mac for convenience – not for the ease of the keys, but for the ease of getting through airport security.

“When forced to leave my house for an extended period of time, I take my typewriter with me, and together we endure the wretchedness of passing through the X-ray scanner. The laptops roll merrily down the belt, while I’m instructed to stand aside and open my bag. To me it seems like a normal enough thing to be carrying, but the typewriter’s declining popularity arouses suspicion and I wind up eliciting the sort of reaction one might expect when traveling with a cannon.

It’s a typewriter,’ I say. ‘You use it to write angry letters to airport security.” David Sedaris

I still fondly remember my first typewriter, and my satisfaction as I slammed the carriage into the next line.

Related Review:

Read a review of Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk –here

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

If you are suspecting that your friend, the writer, is quietly storing observations to use in some future piece, you are right.    David Sedaris has figured out how to expose all those traits without pointing a finger; just make the characters animals.

No one will ever know who he is talking about in Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary – will they?  Do you know anyone who pretends to know what you are talking about, when they really don’t have a clue?  Someone who would tell you what you want to hear, even if he/she didn’t believe it – and all that jazz?

Starting with relatively tame needling, the topics get progressively sharper and sometimes ruthless.  These fables are  nonfiction – with the Sedaris trademark of caustic comedy.  Like Aesop, Sedaris has a message in each of his tales – for everyone out there who acts like an animal or knows someone who does.