This article is from 2006.
David Sedaris shares his industrious working methods and love of reading in public with Ashley Davies.
How many times have you been to a book festival and ended up feeling let down and grey when an author you admire reads material you’ve already heard and seems like he or she can’t wait to get back into their natural habitat - a solitary working environment with no pesky, obsessive fans getting in the way?
Well, you’re absolutely not going to get that with humourist David Sedaris. The man’s working style is so public, he might as well be sitting with his laptop on the Royal Mile wearing his pyjamas. Twice a year he goes on a lecture tour of the US - for his last excursion he visited 36 cities in 37 days. He doesn’t like having to read the same stuff repeatedly so he uses the events to gauge audience response, get the words just right and keep himself entertained while he’s at it.
‘I really appreciate the opportunity to read something out loud and go back to my room and re-write it and read it the next night and re-write it,’ he says. ‘So I find myself cutting more and adding. Also, reading out loud you can imitate someone’s voice.’
And anyone who’s heard his incredibly funny audiobooks (a rare example of a writer’s work being just as good as, if not better than, the paper version) will know how good he is with his voice, whether that’s doing rather cruelly accurate imitations of his redneck-sounding brother or his own childhood self.
While it’s not something he’d really planned to do, the backbone of his work is made up of observations of family, past and present, and stuff that happens in his own day-to-day life (he’s from America but lives between London and Paris with his boyfriend, Hugh, daft arguments with whom he has written about honestly and hilariously).
Most of his books, such as Me Talk Pretty One Day and the most recent and best-selling Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, are what he calls ‘truish’ but he has had a hankering to write more fiction, so he’s been experimenting with some odd-sounding animal fables as a way of getting back into fiction.
‘They’re kind of like fables but for a fable you need a really clear moral,’ he says. Given that this understatement comes from a man who admits to being overwhelmed by property lust when visiting the Anne Frank house, don’t say you haven’t been warned.
22 Aug, 8.30pm, £8 (£6).