Calypso

Calypso

by David Sedaris

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Calypso

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Alan Cumming

…entrancing…Sedaris's brash and raw eloquence allows us to never linger too long in the darkness. He doesn't just bring gallows humor, he brings gallows rimshot. This book allows us to observe not just the nimble-mouthed elf of his previous work, but a man in his seventh decade expunging his darker secrets and contemplating mortality…The brilliance of David Sedaris's writing is that his very essence, his aura, seeps through the pages of his books like an intoxicating cloud, mesmerizing us so that his logic becomes ours…

Publishers Weekly

★ 03/19/2018
Humorist Sedaris (Theft by Finding) collects 21 essays largely about family bonds and getting older in this hilarious yet tender volume. Facing middle age, the author purchased a beach house, which he named Sea Section, in his childhood state of North Carolina. The beach abode serves not only its intended purpose as a perfect location for family gatherings, but also ends up being a venue for arguments, jokes, and encountering local wildlife (in particular, a snapping turtle to whom Sedaris joked he’d feed a benign fatty tumor Sedaris had formed). Sedaris’s mother died of cancer in 1991 at the age of 62, but his conservative, 92-year-old father (with whom he has a difficult relationship), three sisters (a fourth committed suicide), and younger brother are frequent visitors and fodder for Sedaris’s perceptive and imaginative sense of humor; no subject seems too sacred for his wit, including his sister’s suicide (“I’ve always liked to think that before killing myself I’d take the time to really mess with people”) and the physical attractiveness of Jesus. He also riffs on topics ranging from the inane conversations people have at shops, airports, and hotels (“You’re a long way from home, aren’t you?” one bellman comments) to the nasty expletives drivers scream from cars. Throughout, Sedaris reveals a deep loyalty to family, with loving reminiscences of his mother, a palpable wish to be closer to his father, and a nostalgic devotion to his siblings and their shared memories. The author’s fans and newcomers alike will be richly rewarded by this sidesplitting collection. (May)

From the Publisher

"This book allows us to observe not just the nimble-mouthed elf of Sedaris's previous work, but a man in his seventh decade expunging his darker secrets and contemplating mortality...The brilliance of David Sedaris's writing is that his very essence,
his aura, seeps through the pages of his books like an intoxicating cloud,
mesmerizing us so that his logic becomes ours...The geeks really do inherit the earth."—Alan Cumming, New York Times Book Review

"The king of the humorous essay returns with a brand-new collection — his first in five years. Sedaris fans will find plenty of familiar delights: His misanthropic charms and wry wit are as delightful as ever, even if some of the subject matter has changed. From his new vacation home on the coast of North Carolina, he writes about the concerns of health and aging, treating us to a story about the persnickety doctor who refused to let him keep a noncancerous tumor that he'd planned to feed to a snapping turtle once removed. We can only assume that the audiobook version of Calypso will be the perfect travel companion during road trips and getaways this spring and beyond."—Maris Kreizman, New York Magazine

"Age and family occupy beloved humorist
Sedaris's latest collection of essays. His observations feel sharper and often darker than in previous collections, as he ponders the inevitable breakdown of the human body, the shame attendant with illness and age, the nature of addiction, and the eccentricities of his family. Though middle age may have made his shades of gray blacker, the wit and incisiveness that make Sedaris much-adored remain."—Lauren Hubbard, Harper's Bazaar

"Honest, reflective, and even tender...Eloquent and silly, Sedaris' collection could probably find unshakable life even in the dust kitties under the bed...He gets you laughing even as he gently turns you toward the darkness we all must face."—Caroline Leavitt, San Francisco Chronicle

"David Sedaris's new essay collection is the sharpest retort to anyone who thinks they know what our favorite curmudgeonly humorist will be up to next. His charming observational humor is still the engine, but there's nothing frivolous about it. In the wake of his sister's suicide, Sedaris grapples poignantly and satisfyingly (and yes, often hilariously) with death, the aging body, and just how far the bonds of family can stretch."—Alex Postman, Conde Nast Traveler

"David Sedaris's biggest strength as an essayist and a humorist lies in his remarkable power of observation, of detecting the humor and pathos is the everyday conversations most of us don't register. His attention and wit are as incisive as ever, but Sedaris brings a stronger sense of self to the pages of Calypso...It's both warmer and bleaker than any Sedaris that's come before."—Laura Adamczyk and Caitlin Penzeymoog, AV Club

"If there's one thing you can count on in life,
it's Sedaris to leave you giggling on the beach in both humor and horror. His latest collection of stories is a bit more serious than his previous, but even when the Sedaris clan is at its worst, the humorist reveals their antics with his characteristic wit in a way that manages to both soften and sharpen the dark truths behind the stories he tells."—Allison McNearney, Daily Beast

"Sedaris is widely considered is widely considered America's leading humorist, and his new book Calypso does nothing but burnish that reputation."—Nic Brown, Garden & Gun

"Laugh-out-loud funny, true and introspective."—Holly Silva, St Louis Post-Dispatch

"With this tenth book, Sedaris demonstrates yet again what makes him the best American humorist writing today: a remarkable ability to combine the personal with the political,
the mundane with the profane, slime with sublime, and hilarity with heart."—Heller McAlpin, NPR

"The beauty of David Sedaris's personality—and what keeps his readers coming back for best-selling book after best-selling book—is his unwavering dedication to a helter-skelter train of thought...Calypso is his most personal and open book yet, shedding light on his late sister's struggle with mental health, his mother's addiction, and his own experiences with the legalization of gay marriage, but it still finds plenty of room for laughs."—Seija Rankin, Entertainment Weekly

"Calypso is the most family-centered of his books yet and, although much of it is very funny, it's also his most melancholy as it addresses aging and loss...it ranges across a number of other subjects as well, often with Sedaris's trademark off-center, self-deprecating humor."—Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

"If you're ever stuck in an elevator or airport, just pray for David Sedaris to appear. Time passes quickly with this national treasure of a storyteller. Reading Calypso is like settling into a glorious beach vacation with the author, whose parents, siblings and longtime boyfriend, Hugh, feel like old friends to faithful readers...While Sedaris is laugh-out-loud funny in his brilliant, meandering way, it's his personal reflections that will stay with you."—Alice Cary, Bookpage

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2018-02-20
In which the veteran humorist enters middle age with fine snark but some trepidation as well.Mortality is weighing on Sedaris (Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, 2017, etc.), much of it his own, professional narcissist that he is. Watching an elderly man have a bowel accident on a plane, he dreaded the day when he would be the target of teenagers' jokes "as they raise their phones to take my picture from behind." A skin tumor troubled him, but so did the doctor who told him he couldn't keep it once it was removed. "But it's my tumor," he insisted. "I made it." (Eventually, he found a semitrained doctor to remove and give him the lipoma, which he proceeded to feed to a turtle.) The deaths of others are much on the author's mind as well: He contemplates the suicide of his sister Tiffany, his alcoholic mother's death, and his cantankerous father's erratic behavior. His contemplation of his mother's drinking—and his family's denial of it—makes for some of the most poignant writing in the book: The sound of her putting ice in a rocks glass increasingly sounded "like a trigger being cocked." Despite the gloom, however, frivolity still abides in the Sedaris clan. His summer home on the Carolina coast, which he dubbed the Sea Section, overspills with irreverent bantering between him and his siblings as his long-suffering partner, Hugh, looks on. Sedaris hasn't lost his capacity for bemused observations of the people he encounters. For example, cashiers who say "have a blessed day" make him feel "like you've been sprayed against your will with God cologne." But bad news has sharpened the author's humor, and this book is defined by a persistent, engaging bafflement over how seriously or unseriously to take life when it's increasingly filled with Trump and funerals.Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

Library Journal

★ 05/01/2018
Humor is supposed to be the opposite of tragedy, but in the hands of gifted writer and humorist Sedaris, they work brilliantly together. This is a very funny book about death. In 2015, Sedaris is stunned when he learns that his youngest sister has committed suicide, just months before her 50th birthday. Naturally, the disturbing event launches him into a series of meditations on grief and loss. He reflects on the long-ago death of his mother, the declining health of his 90-year-old father, his aging siblings, his relationship with his longtime partner, Hugh, and his own mortality. But then serious contemplation gives way to odd digressions and witty observations. Whether writing about the litter on the street or his own malfunctioning fitbit, the selected details are strange, surprising, funny, and memorable. They are also haunting reminders of our mortality, and as a result, reveal how life is both beautiful and absurd and how, paradoxically, it takes a combination of both to make it worth living. VERDICT While essayist Sedaris has always been personal, this work shows him at his most vulnerable. His honesty is compelling, and his ability to create laughter in the darkness offers readers comfort and hope. [See Prepub Alert, 12/4/17.]—Meagan Lacy, Guttman Community Coll., CUNY

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316392389
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 05/29/2018
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 218,919
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Customer Reviews