BOOK REVIEW: DAVID SEDARIS – CALYPSO

I have a confession to make. I have never read anything from David Sedaris before. 

So, Calypso was my first insight into the wonderful world of Sedaris and I loved every second of it. This is a book I’ve seen everywhere on social media and always intrigued me (especially with that cover!) but I never got round to getting a copy. But with gift cards from Christmas, I saw it in the sale and instantly grabbed a copy. This is one of my favourite books I’ve read in a LONG time. So, what’s Calypso all about? Here’s the blurb:

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 writing has 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 tumour joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’s darkest and warmest book yet – and it just might be his very best.

Lately, I’ve realised I love this sort of a book. Part essays, part memoir and they are becoming my favourite reading genre. Calypso was a special book from the first sentence on the very first page. Like I said, I haven’t read anything from Sedaris before so wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to be reading but my God, he’s good. He’s full of wit, warmth, heart and more. His writing is so real, hilarious and heartbreaking the next. He’s the sort of writer that I want to write like. I couldn’t put it down, it was that good.

Calypso is mostly set around Sedaris buying a beach house where he spends time with his family and this is the overall arc of the book and ties all of the different stories together nicely. As I’ve said already, one minute you could be laughing so much you almost wet yourself and the next, your heartbreaks and you just sit there, fixed on his sentences and words that describe loss and pain so well. I think he writes about family in a brilliant way – from his relationship to his partner Hugh, to his mother, his siblings and also his father, too. It’s real, raw, emotional and heartbreaking but full of heart. I loved reading the stories between him and Hugh, they reminded me so much of me and my partner – from big arguments to him telling me why the hell are you wearing that? Sedaris is an effortless writer and this really is a book that will keep you gripped and enthralled just like any fiction would.

I think it’s safe to say I’m a massive David Sedaris fan now. After I finished the book, I went on his website and saw an event in Cardiff and I got so excited! Only to realise it was last year… I’m going to keep checking his website, go back and read the rest of his books and swot up to become the biggest David Sedaris fanboy.

This is a true treasure of a book. Funny, heartfelt, emotional, hilarious, full of wit and love, it’s truly special. It explores relationships, families, politics, grief, love, loss, the power a FitBit has on you, fashion, and a fox named Carol. It will make you laugh one minute and weep the next. I can’t recommend this book enough. Why did it take me so long to read his books?! But overall, it’s a book that says it’s okay to be who you are and to celebrate that. Just like Sedaris.

Have you read Calypso? What did you think? Are you a massive fan of Sedaris? Which book of his is your favourite? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

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