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Who is David Sedaris?

Diane Goettel
Updated May 23, 2024
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The American humorist David Sedaris was born in Binghamton, New York on December 26, 1956. Although he had a rocky start in his early career as a writer and artist, David Sedaris is now an internationally acclaimed author and radio contributor. He attended college in fits and starts, dropping out of Kent State University in 1977 and finishing his degree ten years later at the Art Institute in Chicago. Sedaris writes wickedly funny, self-deprecating accounts of those years in his teens and twenties.

His humorous stories also often relate information about his family members and experiences during childhood. David Sedaris is the brother of Amy Sedaris, who is an actress, comedian, and writer. The siblings have collaborated on a few writing projects, including the play The Book of Liz. Amy Sedaris was the start of the television show Strangers with Candy which was also turned into a full-length movie. Amy Sedaris has also published books on her own and with other writing partners including I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (2006).

According to his books, David Sedaris suffered from Tourette’s syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder as a young man. In his book Naked (1996), he claims that many of his nervous habits abated when he took up smoking in college. Although David Sedaris quit smoking in early 2007, he has angered anti-smoking campaign officials for years with his anti-anti-smoking campaign. On a speaking engagement in Pittsburgh in 1999, Sedaris made fun of an anti-smoking billboard in which a cigarette was transformed, on one end, into a sinister hypodermic needle. In response, the humorist noted that wish that there were, in fact, a way to inject cigarettes into his bloodstream.

David Sedaris has published a number of books and is a regular contributor at the New Yorker magazine. His books and magazine publications are often autobiographical. In addition to his rocky childhood, early adulthood, and family, Sedaris also writes about his life as a homosexual man, personal drug use, and life with his partner, Hugh. He and his partner currently live in France, though Sedaris makes frequent trips back to the US to attend speaking engagements and promote his books.

In addition to Naked, noted above, Sedaris has published the following books: Barrel Fever (1994), Holidays on Ice (1998), Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000), Dress Your Family in Denim and Corduroy (2004), and Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules (2005).

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Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"

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Discussion Comments
By hidingplace — On May 08, 2011

I've heard Sedaris read on NPR and This American Life and he was great on both. He's very witty. My favorite David Sedaris quote would be "If you aren't cute, you may as well be clever" which is from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day. As an ex-user myself I can relate to the stuff he writes about crystal meth use as well; it's both funny and sad, not to mention accurate. He seems to have had an interesting life.

By redstaR — On May 08, 2011

You can get a lot of David Sedaris' books on Audio CD and they're all read by him; he's an excellent speaker and the books are so funny. I have OCD and it's great to hear somebody else talk about it from their own point of view. His sister Amy Sedaris is funny too, she was in the TV show Strangers With Candy with Stephen Colbert.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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