Happiness is harder to put into words.
January 2, 2015 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Leviathan - a short story by David Sedaris
posted by a lungful of dragon (11 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
" 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."

Hear, hear. It's hard to talk about a good time, but if you have a bad time, it's a story to dine out on. Or make money telling.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:29 PM on January 2, 2015

Aw, bless his dad. I love David Sedaris.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:49 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm often told that what I write on my facebook, livejournal, twitter, blog, or other online outlets sometimes seems a bit angry, complainy, melancholy, pensive, or sad and I have to point out that happiness comes down to the colors of bright, warming light and that electrical shudder you get in your corpus after making out wildly with someone shortly after you realize that you might just love them, whereas grim stuff is to a compulsive storyteller as if Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has pitched huge grey lopsided tents in your own backyard and given you the best opportunity to use all those gorgeously mortifying metaphors you spend your idle moments composing as tools to save the world.
posted by sonascope at 7:04 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by AwkwardPause at 7:16 PM on January 2, 2015

I saw David Sedaris at a reading a couple months ago; he read this one for us, amongst other things... He's absolutely fantastic live - go see him if you have the chance. I've also switched to just getting his audio books, as he reads them all himself, and his delivery just takes the stories to a whole other level.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:48 PM on January 2, 2015

Yes, when I read david Sedaris I hear his voice in my head. It needs to be his voice.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:33 AM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

A treat.

On YouTube, there’s a video of one biting off a finger,
I might have looked this up, but luckily remembered what a strong stomach for the horrible Sedaris has, just in time.
posted by glasseyes at 6:53 AM on January 3, 2015

For fifteen years I have loved David Sedaris, starting with hearing his Santaland Diaries on NPR and then hearing him perform live with my friends and then my husband, buying several of his books and following his work on NPR, This American Life, and in The New Yorker.

But last year, Sedaris wrote about the suicide of his sister Tiffany preceding a vacation that the rest of his family took at his Emerald Isle home (here's the MetaFilter thread about it), and to me it felt like a violation. Now he is writing about that same vacation home and the rest of his family again, anticipating his father's death and asking him in advance for his slippers, telling us that he dwells more easily on the negative than the positive, and I think, maybe I am done with David Sedaris for now. I wish him well and I hope he can cope with things and be happy, but I don't trust that his writing isn't inflicting pain on people, and I don't think I want to be in the middle of that anymore.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:30 PM on January 3, 2015

I've been a fan for a long time and I've been sharing him with my high school students. They like him because he's funny, a little out there, and they've noted the edge of discomfort he brings. And I think it's this edge of discomfort I like about Sedaris because sometimes, like with "Us and Them," I'm uncomfortable with his behavior or what he's writing about but can see the value in telling a good story. Other times, like when he wrote about Tiffany, I felt too uncomfortable and didn't find it to be great, just too exposed and raw.

But maybe that's what great writers do. Sedaris regularly teeters on that edge of discomfort. Maybe what makes him great are those times where he goes too far. I don't know. I'm not the greatest English teacher.
posted by kinetic at 6:14 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

here's the MetaFilter thread about it

That was a thread where people made what appeared to be a lot of unfounded and frankly shitty assumptions about the motivations of the writer and the actions of his family members, and I'd really hope not to let this post get derailed by that kind of stuff, honestly.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:13 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

The last story in his When You Are Engulfed in Flames, "The Smoking Section" describes Sedaris' trip to Japan, doing a 'geographical' in order to quit smoking. While it quite accurately describes certain joys of Japan, I've always wondered -- did it it work? Is he still not smoking?
posted by Rash at 9:56 AM on January 6, 2015

« Older The Dystopian Future is Now   |   Your skin color has been causing us a lot of... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments