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David Sedaris has jumped the shark

The author of the great Santa Land Diaries is reduced to telling a non-story about his business-class trip to Paris??? I have to admit it was always a concern, that an author whose shtick is to tell his true-life stories, that at some point he’d run out of material. I don’t really know the solution. Maybe he could suck it up and try to write some fiction based on serious reflections on his life experiences? Maybe he could do some journalism and get good stories out of other people?

My guess it, the New Yorker would be only doing him a favor by rejecting some of these pieces which are so far below his standard.

Then again, we’re talking about a magazine that defines Dennis Miller as the king of comedy . . .


  1. Seth Roberts says:

    For me the moment was when The New Republic published an article showing that a lot of stuff was made up.

  2. rj says:

    Short stories have plots, and the Sedaris piece has no plot in the literary sense – although I suppose if you did a scatter plot :) of the ideas (say, 3-D: valence of affect, intensity, and demonstrativeness), it might show some tendencies for his reflections that day to be attracted to emotion that almost forces expression.
    You're right about it not being a story. It is a different type of writing, recording a series of reflections: interesting descriptions of some thought-provoking moments and some provoked thoughts.

  3. Andrew says:


    I don't mind if Sedaris makes things up; I just want him to be funnier. Also, it's a bit rich for the New Republic to say that another magazine is making things up.


    I don't mind the lack of plot; I just didn't find his reflections to be that interesting. For my taste, was too much about him admitting that he likes flying first class, he's rich but just like the rest of us, etc. etc.

  4. Igor Carron says:


    You're wrong, it is informative. I now know how to get to Business Elite on my next flight. I hope it's not made up…


  5. ZBicyclist says:

    I'm reminded a bit of Robert Pirsig, who wrote "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", an autobiographical rambling through his hard times riding a motorcycle through the West.

    That book did spectacularly well. In his next book many years later he's a rich guy sailing a large boat. It's a lot harder to get a sympathetic ear in these circumstances, even if the quality of the writing is as good.

    Frankly, I don't want to hear about people in first / business class now that my firm makes me fly to India in coach.

  6. robbie bennett says:

    Thanks for your response and for the clarification. It is much appreciated. I was guessing about what might have displeased you and was swayed, I'm afraid, toward the plot theory by the opportunity to share a pun with another math-oriented person.
    Anyway, you were thinking the magazine might have been doing him a favor by turning down the essay, and I was speculating about why the editors had published it. My clumsily-made point was that he did have something to say about emotion, control and expression of emotion, assumptions about others, and so on. While his essay was not to your taste, and really, not to my taste, it was well-done, had some substance to it, and touched on the socially-important tendency to unknowingly respond to the people around us as though they had the same motives people from our past. This tendency causes a lot of misunderstanding and misery and is a useful topic to consider.
    Thanks for the effort you put into your very useful blog. I hope you have a wonderful new year!