Like many people, I first learned about David Sedaris in the 1990s on National Public Radio when he read his hysterically funny diary entries about being a Macy’s department store elf. I have been a fan ever since of his dry, witty observations of everyday events and self-deprecating humor.
Experiencing Sedaris is best when listening to him narrate his audiobooks. His latest, Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, is no exception. The author faithfully keeps a diary recording the funny, sometime bizarre behavior he witnesses. In Theft by Finding, his entries start in his early 20s when he struggles financially and takes all kinds of odd jobs, from fruit picking and furniture moving to construction work and painting. He eventually leaves his hometown of Raleigh, N.C. and goes to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he continues to struggle financially, while finding his true gift of writing. The diary entries eventually take him to New York City, where he continues to struggle financially as a writer and a playwright, hence the job as a Santa elf. Theft by Finding ends with him as a New York Times bestselling author.
Sedaris’ observations are sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, sometimes mean, and always entertaining and honest. He shares anecdotes about his colorful family, including his sister, actor Amy Sedaris, his quirky mother and sometimes-difficult father. I listened to Theft by Finding while adjusting to a new work commute. I found I wished the drive were longer so I could keep listening. To me that is the ultimate praise for a book.