At the end of August, two new books by David Sedaris were published in German. On Monday, the American author read from it twice with German cabaret artist Frank Goosen in Vienna. Sedaris does not have excessive political correctness; he finds it “tiresome,” as he confirmed in the interview conducted with him by APA. Regarding the open divisions in society, he said: “I hate the extreme right as much as I hate the extreme left. “They are equal parts intolerant and self-righteous.”
At the event in Gartenbaukino, the duo took turns performing German-language and original samples of “Kleine Happen” (“A Carnival Of Snackery”) and “Bitte Smile!” (“Happy-Go-Lucky”). The latter is a collection of essays, and the former is excerpts from the writer’s diaries. Sedaris said in the interview conducted before his appearance that A Small Event is “very thick,” but his memoir is “much more comprehensive.” The 66-year-old continued: He’s constantly taking notes – and takes out a little book to prove it.
Once he arrived in Vienna, Sedaris had already written material for his memoirs: “You wouldn’t believe how long it took to check into the hotel here,” he smiled. “It was faster to apply for a loan and get approved to buy an apartment in Paris.”
During his readings, Sedaris takes a lot of time to chat with his readers. Sometimes the conversation took unpleasant turns: “I’m trying to learn German. I recently asked in German in Germany: Are you unemployed?” One of the men answered in the affirmative, but added that he was retired. He looked about forty-five, so I asked him “Why did he retire early? He answers that he has a brain tumor, and according to his doctors, he will only live one year. Damned! I was amazed: And you are an employee here? This is how you spend this remaining time?”
Sedaris tours almost constantly, which he sees as a benefit to his job rather than a burden. “In the United States, I visit at least 100 cities a year and read in theaters,” the author said. “It’s interesting to see how things are received differently in different parts of the country. For example, I wrote about hating children, as if to say hating children is a good idea. I was booed in the Northeast, while people applauded in South and laughed louder than I had ever seen before.
Sedaris doesn’t think much about cancel culture: “I was really blown away by the review of Roald Dahl’s books. He can’t even defend himself anymore. “I hate the idea that someone might rewrite my books at some point.” “It’s simply a reflection of their times,” says the author. He adds: “For most of history, I would have been killed as a gay man. But that doesn’t mean I can’t watch a movie or read a book that insults a gay person. It always depends on the context.”
In general, Sedaris calls for more calm: “When I first moved to New York City, I worked in a department store. I wrote about it. Someone made a play out of it. It never occurred to me that a gay person should play my part. Never.” !You don’t have to be gay to understand my writing. Being gay is a small part of my personality, but it’s not a big deal. I don’t have to talk about it and lecture people all the time.
When asked about the gap in society and the hardened fronts, the American, who lives with his partner in France and London, said: “Our neighbor in Sussex voted for Britain’s exit from the European Union. But we eat together and visit each other. In America, if your neighbor voted for Trump and you didn’t, it’s impossible. “It’s sad because we can’t move forward like this.”
(Interview conducted by Wolfgang Hauptmann/APA)
(Service – David Sedaris: “Little Bites” and “Please Smile!”, translated by George Diegerich and Karl Blessing Verlag, 656 and 288 pages, €27.50 and €25.50, respectively.
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