David Sedaris
Contributed by Larisa Brooke

Historical and Current Context of the Calypso by David Sedaris

The author of Calypso, David Raymond Sedaris, is an American writer, humorist, as well as comedian. Sedaris is also a radio contributor who became well known to the general public in 1992 when an American radio publicized his well-known story, Santaland Diaries. The author has been publishing short stories since 1994, the year in which he made public Barrel Fever, his first short essays novel. In writing short stories, Sedaris has also occasionally collaborated with his sister, Amy Sedaris, who is also an actress.

The author derives humor from his autobiographical experiences which involve not only his observations but also the situations of his family life and upbringing. Sedaris hails from a middle-class family in North Carolina from the Raleigh outskirts. He has written on his daily life experiences with regards to education, employment, homosexuality, drug abuse, personality habits, his education, as well as his experiences as a person of Greek descent. Sedaris is a character with a vast array of experiences that he gathered from living in different cities and countries. Some of these include France, London, as well as his interactions with the English dwellers of South Downs.

The author was born in New York, in a small town called Johnson, to Elizabeth Sharon and Louis Sedaris. The author’s father is of Greek heritage, practiced the Orthodox faith, and also worked as an IBM engineer. David Sedaris had six siblings but one of his siblings Tiffany committed suicide in her twenties. The author was discovered by Ira Glass who kept inviting him to her radio show. The author eventually gained publicity after reading his story Santaland Diaries during a morning run edition on the radio. This culminated in more recordings of his diary writings.

David Sedaris has written many books which include Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, When You are Engulfed in Flames, Holidays on Ice, among others. Some of his books led to his achieving of various awards including Randy Shilts Awards and Thurber Prize for American Humor. The author is among the few gay writers who have gained popularity from their work. For instance, a Grammy nomination for one of his stories. The author currently resides in England in West Sussex, together with his partner Hugh Hamrick. Sedaris mentions his boyfriend when illustrating some of the stories in his books.

The author draws inspiration primarily from his art experience at the Institute of Chicago. He particularly enjoyed workshopping with his colleagues to improve on his art. The author describes how much he would rehearse essays and stories to perform before an audience. He would later go to his room and find ways of improving the play to include humor to enhance delivery. In fact, before publishing Calypso, he had managed to narrate each of the stories on stage around fifty times.

David Sedaris also draws a lot of inspiration to publish Calypso from the love of his family. He describes how much he treasures the moments spending time with his family, which he believes is uniquely endowed with love He describes an existence of great cohesion among his family members that knits them together. The author derives exceptional creativity from being with his family, and enjoying the moments from which he gets his stories.

During his book tours and personal experiences with other people, Sedaris states that he always find something funny and hilarious to write about. During his interactions with people, he picks out ideas on stories to write about and shapes them to please his readers and audience. It is clear the author enjoys creating great stories from situations that ordinary people would never find humor from and this is what distinguishes Sedaris from other comedian writers.

Sedaris describes his humor as sadistic yet hilarious in a manner likely to mean that, just as he claims, people should not take situations too seriously. People might feel like the author is too hands-on in joking about sad and less-funny situations, however, the author argues that people should not be enemies of comedy. Some people might take his humor about grief as a strange gesture, but to the author, comedy can be derived from any situation.

Calypso intensely spins funny as well as emotionally moving stories as a result of day to day occurrences. The book explores the reality of dealing with grief in a subtle and real way through humor. The author tries to explain the strain in family and relationships that exist in all spheres. Calypso highlights the importance of family; it is what keeps all people carrying forth their dream and happiness.

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