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Monday, September 25, 2023


Naked’ author to bare it all

If movie stars are to be considered both ordinary and extraordinary, as John Ellis wrote, perhaps this could be extended to some writers – take David Sedaris. To be sure, Jones Hall is going to be packed at 8 p.m. tonight when he visits Houston as part of a 30-city tour in support of his new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames.

The 51-year old humorist is ordinary in the fact that he, like most humans, was born. He grew up in suburban North Carolina. He had siblings. He went to summer camp.

But that’s where the ordinary road ends for Sedaris, and the rest, at least in light of his career achievements, including enlightening seven million readers with his books, translated in 25 languages worldwide, doesn’t even touch on the extraordinary.

What about two Grammy nominations in 2005 (one for best comedy and another for best spoken word album) and an almost movie credit or his act of reclaiming the nonfiction world – while dodging critical accusations against embellishment in the name of storytelling?

All has happened for Sedaris, who began his career working as an Elf at Macy’s in New York City who wrote about his plight in his diary. The entries eventually became "Santaland Diaries," which he read on NPR’s Morning Edition.

His much-loved prose brought him a monthly spot on the radio, and the initial stories grew into Barrel Fever, a collection of autobiographical essays published just two years later in 1994.

Since then he has written bestsellers Naked, Holidays on Ice, Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, as well as several New York-produced plays with his youngest sister, actress Amy Sedaris.

David Sedaris, whom presently lives a quiet life in Normandy, France with longtime boyfriend of 18 years, Hugh Hamrick, doesn’t seem to have much room for regret. Not even regarding having pulled the plug on movie plans for 2000’s Me Talk Pretty.

"I got out of it. I just couldn’t do it," he told Time Magazine in 2004. "My sister asked me, ‘Will I be fat in the movie?’ and I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve turned into the devil.’"

He doesn’t even bat an eye at The New Republic’s accusations made last year in "The American Lie," an article that drew the line between literature genres and fact-checking, alleging David Sedaris’ nonfiction fell on the wrong side of the fence.

"Memoir is the last place you’d expect to find the truth," he told the New York Times in a June interview.

However, those who attend the performance can expect to find themselves laughing all the way home. The Society for the Performing Arts is sponsoring this event. Call 713-227-4SPA or visit for more details. Tickets range from $20 to $50.

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