Calypso|David Sedaris


David Sedaris returns with his most deeply personal and darkly hilarious book.

If you've ever laughed your way through David Sedaris's cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think you know what you're getting with Calypso. You'd be wrong.

When he buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, Sedaris envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lounging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at the Sea Section, as he names the vacation home, is exactly as idyllic as he imagined, except for one tiny, vexing realization: it's impossible to take a vacation from yourself.
With Calypso, Sedaris sets his formidable powers of observation toward middle age and mortality. Make no mistake: these stories are very, very funny--it's a book that can make you laugh 'til you snort, the way only family can. Sedaris's powers of observation have never been sharper, and his ability to shock readers into laughter unparalleled. But much of the comedy here is born out of that vertiginous moment when your own body betrays you and you realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future.

This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk and love a good tumor joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris's darkest and warmest book yet--and it just might be his very best.


  • ISBN-13: 9780316392389
  • ISBN-10: 0316392383
  • Publisher: Little Brown and Company
  • Publish Date: May 2018
  • Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds
  • Page Count: 272

Life's a beach and then you die

BookPage Top Pick in Nonfiction, June 2018

If you’re ever stuck in an elevator or airport, just pray for David Sedaris to appear. Time passes quickly with this national treasure of a storyteller.

Reading Calypso, Sedaris’ latest collection of essays, is like settling into a glorious beach vacation with the author, whose parents, siblings and longtime boyfriend, Hugh, feel like old friends to faithful readers. Family gatherings at Sedaris’ North Carolina beach house are featured frequently in this collection of 21 essays, and at the Sea Section (his chosen moniker for his beach house), games of Sorry! become delightfully vicious and the clan gets gleefully nosy when James Comey is said to be renting 12 doors down.

Another favorite topic, not surprisingly, is aging. Sedaris, 61, observes that sometimes life at the beach feels like a Centrum commercial, and soon enough, he and his siblings will join the seniors they see zooming by on golf carts. “How can that be,” he asks, “when only yesterday, on this very same beach, we were children?”

While Sedaris is laugh-out-loud funny in his brilliant, meandering way, it’s his personal reflections that will stay with you. He writes of his sister Tiffany, who killed herself in 2013, admitting that he asked his manager to close the door in her face the last time he saw her. He describes scattering the ashes of his late mother in the Atlantic Ocean, writing, “My mother died in 1991, yet reaching into the bag, touching her remains, essentially throwing her away, was devastating, even after all this time.” Sedaris laments how he and his family never confronted his mother about her drinking, and he worries over the health of his 94-year-old father, who can’t be talked into moving to a retirement home.

Sedaris freely shares all, explaining, “Memory aside, the negative just makes for a better story: the plane was delayed, an infection set in, outlaws arrived and reduced the schoolhouse to ashes. Happiness is harder to put into words.”


This article was originally published in the June 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.