Calypso by David Sedaris

I’ve never reviewed non-fiction before, but I’m a huge fan of David Sedaris and have had his work signed by him. He’s probably the only author I’ve ever had sign my books.

Here’s more about the book

36341620If 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.

If you haven’t read David Sedaris, you need to know one thing before you do; he’s not your average human being. Things like naming his beach house in North Carolina “Sea Section,” or managing 25 miles in a day on his Fitbit are what really call to him. In his collections of essays, you don’t get your drab stories about a man living his life. You get stories written from the small details that life hands you but sometimes you forget.

Reading David Sedaris reminds me of watching episodes of Roseanne. What looks to be your typical American family turns out to be much more than that. There’s a deeper truth behind the stories and sometimes the stories are just stories. There’s controversy, but you realize why the events taking place are so controversial.

In Calypso, you can sense a theme spanning across Sedaris’s stories. The main theme was definitely middle age. There isn’t much about his twenties or the life he lived before he met Hugh. There isn’t much about his childhood and growing up with three sisters. However, there’s a lot on colonoscopies, staying fit while getting older, and the continued battle of who’s political party is the better one.

Many of his stories take place on his beach property in North Carolina. Many of them are written about his sister’s suicide and his father’s old age. Some of the stories are light-hearted and remind you that life is a little bit weird and you can make it weirder on your own like buying culottes in Japan or feeding a snapping turtle part of a lump they took out of your body. Other stories are much more serious.

I’ve read stories about his sister, Tiffany, before. This isn’t the first time David Sedaris incorporated her experiences into his work. However, this feels like the first time he dives deeper into her personality and the impact her death made on his family. It’s kind of funny that David Sedaris is able to laugh about getting married to his long-time partner, Hugh, but then it goes real dark with stories about how old his father is getting.

But I guess that’s kind of what life is like and that’s what I love about David Sedaris’s work. You laugh a little and you cry a little. Each moment is just another stamp in the passport of life. Of course there’s also stories about the current political state America is in despite the fact that he’s lived in England for decades. It just goes to show that the moments we live through make up the later years of our lives. We spend time reminiscing on the past and avoiding the shock of knowing you’re suddenly in your 50s.

If anything, this book made me feel at ease. Middle age is a ways away for me, but I always imagine what it’s like to be my parents’ age. I know it’s inevitable that I’ll get there, but it’s always nice to know what I’m about to get into.

I received a copy of this book from Little, Brown for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

Simone and Her Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way affects my opinion of the above book.

4 thoughts on “Calypso by David Sedaris

  1. This is going to be my next audio pick…and naming a beach house Sea Section is hilarious!! Amen, Mr. Sedaris!


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