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Summary and book reviews of Calypso by David Sedaris

Calypso

by David Sedaris

Calypso by David Sedaris X
Calypso by David Sedaris
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2018, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2019, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Natalie Vaynberg
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About this Book

Book Summary

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.

Company Man

Though there's an industry built on telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age. The only perk I can see is that, with luck, you'll acquire a guest room. Some people get one by default when their kids leave home, and others, like me, eventually trade up and land a bigger house. "Follow me," I now say. The room I lead our visitors to has not been hastily rearranged to accommodate them. It does not double as an office or weaving nook but exists for only one purpose. I have furnished it with a bed rather than a fold-out sofa, and against one wall, just like in a hotel, I've placed a luggage rack. The best feature, though, is its private bathroom.

"If you prefer a shower to a tub, I can put you upstairs in the second guest room," I say. "There's a luggage rack up there as well." I hear these words coming from my puppet-lined mouth and shiver with middle-aged satisfaction. Yes, my hair is gray and thinning. Yes, the washer on my penis has...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

David Sedaris' Calypso is every bit as hilarious and irreverent, as clever and incisive, as brilliant and entertaining as he has ever been. Whether you're a long-time resident or a brand new visitor to the land of Sedaris, you are sure to enjoy the ride...continued

Full Review (424 words).

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(Reviewed by Natalie Vaynberg).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The author's fans and newcomers alike will be richly rewarded by this sidesplitting collection.

Library Journal
Starred Review. 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.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. In which the veteran humorist enters middle age with fine snark but some trepidation as well. Sedaris at his darkest - and his best.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Can Nonfiction Be Too Revealing?

David Sedaris and SiblingsOn May 24, 2013, Tiffany Sedaris, sister of writer David Sedaris, died by 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 ...

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