I would normally not think of placing these two books side by side- but having read them one after the other, I find that they share a real-ness and rawness that is very engaging.. Reading both books, I felt as if I was hanging out with a friend for an afternoon of tea and story-telling. David Sedaris seems to come naturally to sharing intimate details of his personal life and thoughts, while Porochista Khakpour admittedly starts with a contrived narrative that she strips back in order to expose a reality that is less than glamorous.
Neither book seems to have a finish line or specific point- rather they each offer a glimpse not only into the private lives of the authors, but also delve – fairly deeply at times – into matters of the human condition, which include health (both mental and physical), culture, society, politics, the demands and complexities of relationships- families and friendships, and more..
Sedaris writes from a perspective that is based in humor- his chapters had me laughing out loud, giggling and chuckling through page after page. But he also shows a deeply tender and vulnerable side that reaches directly to the heart of difficult subject matter(s). As this past month I have been struggling with health issues that led me to a couple of overnights in the hospital, his writing brought lightness to an otherwise bleak experience. I find genius in writers and writing that can shine light (and smiles!) into those terribly human moments that we all go through.
Khakpour, on the other hand, opens up about her long-suffering battle with chronic pain and debilitating health issues that ultimately winds up with a diagnosis of Lyme’s disease. She writes in a stark and realistic style and goes pretty deep, without the feeling of over-sharing or dramatizing her struggles. I was surprised that I did not find the book tedious, as it dwells on less-than-dazzling repetitive stories of doctors’ visits, symptoms and the frustration of not finding answers. Instead, I found a human voice that wants others to understand a little about what chronic illness entails. Again, with my current health situation, I felt a connection and a shared humanity with the author and the story.
I realize that I posted earlier that my first book would be the one my son gave me (No One Is Coming to Save Us)- but Sedaris’s Calypso is also a book that Michael selected from a tiny bookstore on our mini summer vacation – this time for himself- but I stole it (borrowed it) and read it speedily… It is back on his shelf, and I am still committed to finishing the other book he gave me at some point in this reading adventure.. You just never know what book is going to call to you, and right now I needed a bit of non-fiction..
Hope everyone is having a nice summer! Happy reading!