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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

David Sedaris returns to UC Davis


Author and humorist hopes to entertain, inspire

There are not many authors who have been nominated for several Grammy Awards, won Time’s “Humorist of the Year” and whose non-fiction essay about being “Crumpet the Elf” at a Macy’s department store has become a classic NPR holiday tradition. This may explain why author, humorist and radio contributor David Sedaris is so incredibly popular. Time and again he has impressed audiences with his mainly autobiographical work that seamlessly weaves together the tales of family life, humor and everything in between.

Sedaris will be returning to the Mondavi Center on Nov. 11 for “An Evening with David Sedaris,” where he will be reading from essay collections and engaging with the audience.

Jose Ramirez, a fifth-year English and computer science double major, believes that Sedaris has cross-platform appeal as an author and a humorist and likened Sedaris to the closest thing we have to a rock-star author. Ramirez appreciates the brutal honesty of Sedaris’ autobiographical work, including the “uncomfortable” bits that make it so easy to relate to.

“He goes into a lot of detail about issues that his family had, and it’s very personal but also very funny! A lot of it’s very tragic, but it grips you he mixes it in and tempers it with a lot of humor,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez also addressed why one would attend a live reading session with an author and the benefits that this could provide compared to only reading their work. He believes that “hearing one of his stories performed live is almost like experiencing it for the first time,” and that one does not necessarily have had to have read his work in order to be moved by the author.

Jacinda Townsend, an assistant professor of English and the author of Saint Monkey, also believes in the power of seeing an author live.

“When a writer reads to you, you’re having a whole different experience than you are when you are simply connecting to it on the page,” Townsend said. “Literature is a way to understand the human condition, and actually going to see an author talking about how he or she went about turning these marks on paper into an understanding of the human condition is just a marvelous thing.”

Sedaris certainly touches upon the human condition in his work; he has written about his sister’s tragic suicide and the difficulties of family life.

Sedaris is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and often reads his work on NPR, the platform which originally put him on the map. He has mastered the art of work that is both interesting and translates well to being read aloud.

Jeremy Ganter, the associate executive director and director of programming at the Mondavi Center, is also a fan of the author.

The live Sedaris experience is uniquely communal — he knows how to connect with an audience and that adds new dimensions and inflections to his work. For me, and I’m sure for many others, it’s similar to seeing the script of a beloved play finally realized in front of you,” Ganter said.

Since writers can be underrepresented in terms of appearances at larger venues, the benefit to students of having an author welcomed for a large event cannot be ignored.

“For students, particularly those exploring creative pursuits, I can think of few better examples of the power of writing about what you know. His work is deeply personal but is often so side-splittingly funny that you just can’t help being open and happy about hearing what he has to say, warts and all, about himself and about human nature,” Ganter said.

The event will take place at 8 p.m. in Jackson Hall. For more information about ticketing, please visit the Mondavi Center website at https://tickets.mondaviarts.org.

Written by: Pari Sagafi – arts@theaggie.org


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