David Sedaris
Contributed by Larisa Brooke
Themes are described as ideas that dominate a particular piece of literature. In almost all cases, pieces of literature will be centered a theme or a number of them.

Throughout Calypso, David Sedaris describes various emotional experiences he dealt with in his life related to his family. Sedaris finds a humorous way to make his dark situations appear funny to the reader. The author is also acutely aware of his advancing age, and he uses his stories in book to prepare his mind for future death. Sedaris reveals the death of his sister Tiffany and his mother and the circumstances that led to their passing.

Tiffany had been causing his family a lot of grief due to her mischief and mental illness. The author recounts how the entire family did their best to help her without success. Tiffany's situation became worse when she received her inheritance which she spent within two years after quitting her job. Sedaris illustrates the extent of helplessness the family felt when they tried to assist her to get herself back together. She ended up scavenging on garbage which Sedaris found hurtful considering that she was educated and capable of securing a job.

Sedaris opens up to the reader and reveals the emotions he feels surrounding his experiences. The author states that mental illness and addiction impact all people, irrespective of class or wealth. Tiffany caused grief to her family when she eventually committed suicide. The author recounts how the family took a while before they came to terms with their sister's death. Sedaris felt that his family of six was never complete after the death of his sister.

Sedaris also describes the memories of their mother before she eventually succumbed to cancer. He wishes his mother could have lived a bit longer to see his success. The author was very close to his mother, and both had great conversations together. Sedaris confesses to feeling devastated by the demise of his mother and adds that if his mother were sober, probably she could have tamed the growing cancer. The short stories showcase grief in Sedaris' family with the author often using dark humor to sadistically express sorrow.


The theme of addiction is illustrated in many instances throughout Calypso. For instance, the author’s obsession with his Fitbit device, Tiffany's drug abuse, and his mother's alcoholism. The author aims at informing the reader of the extent to which addiction causes damage to a person and their loved ones. Addiction has been one of the reasons that the author’s family experiences grief and death. The author's addiction comes in the form of obsession with the new device that assists him to keep fit. He admits that the device controls his life which is witnessed when Sedaris still walks two miles at the airport despite having a severe gastrointestinal virus.

Tiffany is addicted to drugs which makes her unable to control her life. She quits her job only to end up in trash cans scavenging for things to sell. The author states that her sister should not be in such a situation since she is educated and capable of work. However, Sedaris also comes to the revelation that addiction is a master that controls people regardless of their social class and how much wealth they have. The addiction that Tiffany has to drugs results in mental instability and loss of reasoning. Ultimately, it results in her committing suicide.

The author's mother struggled with alcoholism and smoking when she was alive. Sedaris states that his mother could not see the end of the day without being drunk. According to the author, his mother's alcoholism was not about quality but quantity. She had many bottles of alcohol which the author and his siblings called their mother's dolls. Sedaris recounts how his mother embarrassed him during dinner with his friends. Before the author's guests arrived, his mother was already drunk and kept on staggering during dinner and telling the same story repeatedly. Sedaris wished his mother's addiction to alcohol and smoking would stop.

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