Theft by finding Diaries (1977-2002)

David Sedaris

Book - 2017

Shares the author's favorite diary entries, providing a look into the mind of a comic genius.

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New York : Little, Brown and Company 2017.
First edition
Physical Description
514 pages ; 25 cm
Main Author
David Sedaris (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Sedaris' diaries are the wellspring for his cuttingly funny autobiographical essays, and he now presents a mesmerizing volume of deftly edited passages documenting 35 years of weird, disturbing, and hilarious experiences. Theft by Finding, Sedaris' latest riddling title, following Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls (2013), is a sly allusion to his artistic method: he is a champion eavesdropper and omnivorous observer, and this selective diary is basically a set of meticulous field notes cataloging atrocious human behavior. In 1977, college-dropout Sedaris is hitchhiking out West, picking fruit for pitiful wages, and getting high. He returns to Raleigh, his hometown, where he works odd jobs, makes art, and matter-of-factly records a litany of alarming encounters with enraged strangers, a theme that continues after he moves to Chicago, attends art school, and begins writing in earnest, and then in New York, where he ascends. People throw rocks and bottles at him, insult and threaten him, demand money and cigarettes. He records a constant barrage of racist, sexist, and anti-gay outbursts, and portrays an array of hustlers, eccentrics, bullies, and misfits. Sedaris is caustically witty about his bad habits and artistic floundering. Even when he cleans up his act, falls in love, and achieves raving success, Sedaris remains self-deprecating and focused on the bizarre and the disquieting. A candid, socially incisive, and sharply amusing chronicle of the evolution of an arresting comedic artist. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Devotees of mega-best-selling Sedaris have been waiting for access to his diary, and a robust marketing plan will get the word out fast. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

For decades, Sedaris has engaged readers with artfully constructed essays of his and his family's experiences. His diaries have served as source material for those pieces, and this collection of selected diary entries provides new stories, vulgar jokes, and social commentary that have not previously appeared in his writing. While his essays are crafted to present a particular persona and possess a wry tone, reading the same situation in the diaries fills in the edges and makes Sedaris (and his family) more fully rounded people as we see the trajectory of their lives unfold over time. Of particular interest are details of his collaborations with his sister Amy. Here Sedaris is still a keen observer of the world, but he's also a man who must get to work, navigate sexual relationships, and consider the price of chicken. VERDICT For Sedaris fans, this is a primary source not to miss, but even the more casual reader will be drawn in, as the author comes into his own as a writer and a person.—Margaret Heller, Loyola Univ. Chicago Libs. Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

This American Life and New Yorker humorist Sedaris (Naked) displays the raw material for his celebrated essays with these scintillating excerpts from his personal journals. Sedaris collects entries stretching back to his penniless salad days working odd jobs (apple picker, construction worker, house cleaner, a now-famous stint as a Christmas elf), hanging out at the International House of Pancakes and wrestling half-heartedly with drink and drugs. He moves on to his breakthrough as a memoirist and playwright and then to later embroilments and obsessions, including a fixation on feeding flies to pet spiders. Here as elsewhere, Sedaris is a latter-day Charlie Chaplin: droll, put-upon but not innocent, and besieged by all sorts of obstreperous or menacing folks. The frequent appearance of colorful weirdos spouting pithy dialogue may strike some readers as unlikely to be entirely true. But Sedaris's storytelling, even in diary jottings, is so consistently well-crafted and hilarious that few will care whether it's embroidered. (May) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Shares the author's favorite diary entries, providing a look into the mind of a comic genius.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An anthology of personal favorite diary entries by the best-selling author of Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls features excerpts that have inspired his famed autobiographical essays and shares insights into the intimate arenas of his life. 750,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

One of the most anticipated books of 2017: Boston Globe, New York Times Book Review, New York's "Vulture", The Week, Bustle, BookRiotAn NPR Best Book of 2017An AV Club Favorite Book of 2017A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2017A Goodreads Choice Awards nomineeDavid Sedaris tells all in a book that is, literally, a lifetime in the making.For forty years, David Sedaris has kept a diary in which he records everything that captures his attention-overheard comments, salacious gossip, soap opera plot twists, secrets confided by total strangers. These observations are the source code for his finest work, and through them he has honed his cunning, surprising sentences.Now, Sedaris shares his private writings with the world. Theft by Finding, the first of two volumes, is the story of how a drug-abusing dropout with a weakness for the International House of Pancakes and a chronic inability to hold down a real job became one of the funniest people on the planet.Written with a sharp eye and ear for the bizarre, the beautiful, and the uncomfortable, and with a generosity of spirit that even a misanthropic sense of humor can't fully disguise, Theft By Finding proves that Sedaris is one of our great modern observers. It's a potent reminder that when you're as perceptive and curious as Sedaris, there's no such thing as a boring day.