David Sedaris on my new book


My sister, Katherine Chilcote, went to see David Sedaris give a reading in Seattle earlier this year, and she bought me this book. She bent his ear about my poetry book, The Shape of Home, and so — to make her go away, I imagine — he wrote the inscription here.

Generally, I’m a big fan of Sedaris’ writing. Certain pieces, especially about not fitting in as a kid, gender nonconformity, and his strained relationship with his dad, really resonate with me.

This year, I’ve been teaching an intro class on personal essay writing at Cleveland Public Library’s Carnegie West branch. The class is big – there are over 50 people signed up, and typically 20-30 show up each month. We talk a lot about truth in nonfiction, and what you can and can’t do. The stories they write are powerful and amazing. They don’t need to make shit up.

So I was disappointed to find out Sedaries does. In his piece “This American Lie” in the New Republic, Alex Heard writes about one of my favorite essays in Me Talk Pretty One Day, “Giant Dreams, Midget Abilities,” in which young Sedaris takes guitar lessons from a midget named Mr. Mancini: “Too bad none of it happened. Well, one thing happened. Sedaris did briefly take guitar lessons from a little person, but he made up Mancini’s style, quirks, and speeches, and he invented the moment when Mancini thought young David was making a pass at him.”

So much for your writing heroes. But what a cool inscription!


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