Can Nonfiction Be Too Revealing?: Background information when reading Calypso

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Calypso

by David Sedaris

Calypso by David Sedaris X
Calypso by David Sedaris
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  • Published:
    May 2018, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Natalie Vaynberg

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Can Nonfiction Be Too Revealing?

This article relates to Calypso

David Sedaris and SiblingsOn May 24, 2013, Tiffany Sedaris, sister of writer David Sedaris, committed suicide. Shortly after, David penned an essay for the New Yorker, entitled Now We are Five. In true Sedaris fashion, the essay doesn't focus entirely on Tiffany or the circumstances of her death, but instead looks at the situation through the lens of complicated, ever-evolving family dynamics. In a closely-knit clan, Tiffany was a thread that never quite fit.

Although the response to the piece was largely positive, there were also many who were incensed. People who claimed to know Tiffany intimately were appalled by Sedaris's description of her – mentally ill, unpredictable, substance abusing – and spoke angrily on behalf of their deceased friend. The backlash that Sedaris faced is not new in the literary world, in fact it is a common trope for nonfiction authors who use their personal lives as inspiration. Is it ethical to write about family members? Is it fair to drag them, unwitting, ...

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