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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Happy Go-Lucky’ author David Sedaris returns to the Bing

By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

A shard of reality is often the basis of great entertainment, whether it’s music, theater or literature. David Sedaris often hits readers with a tsunami of reality with his provocative books.

“Happy-Go-Lucky,” Sedaris’ latest page turner, hit shelves in May and was inspired by his abusive father, Lou, who passed away at 98 in 2021. The collection of essays are captivating. It’s a cathartic exercise for Sedaris, who works through years of anger and pain by writing about an experience that some, unfortunately, can relate to due to being raised in a similar fashion.

“I had so much to endure during childhood,” Sedaris said. “I had a wonderful mother and my dad was, well, different.”

The North Carolina native, who will do a reading Saturday at the Bing Crosby Theater, is very popular on the circuit, since he’s an entertaining orator in addition to being a wonderful writer.

Sedaris, 65, is also self-deprecating, charming and most of all, real. Sedaris was elevated from obscurity to the upper echelon of the literary world due to his primarily autobiographical work.

Most of the material from his breezy books are inspired by his family life. “I’ve always had so much to write about,” Sedaris said.

Sedaris, who keeps a notebook by his side, was not an overnight success. At the quarter-century mark, he decided to become a writer but it took him a decade to get established.

“Having a career as a writer isn’t easy,” Sedaris said.

But Sedaris connected with the mainstream. More than 7 million copies of Sedaris’ books have been sold to date. Sedaris is not just a commercial success. The American expatriate, who lives in England, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Fans clamor for tickets to experience Sedaris events, which are often sold out.

“It’s something that I could have never imagined when I was young,” Sedaris said. “I don’t think anyone in my family could have imagined this in their wildest dreams.”

That was until such amusing books as “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” and “When You Are Engulfed in Flames’ hit shelves. Each of those became New York Times bestsellers and established Sedaris as a wildly popular literary figure.

His family tales are either familiar or almost too uncomfortable to read, which is true throughout much of “Happy-Go-Lucky.”

Sedaris writes about how his father reneged on contractors, made sexual remarks to his daughters and would be prone to acts of physical abuse. Sedaris was thrown out of his home when he was 22 after revealing he was gay and sadly always believed his father loathed him and wanted him out of his life.

During the latter years of his father’s life, Sedaris’ dad moved into an assisted living facility and developed dementia. At that point, Sedaris notes that his critical father magically lost the ability to hate.

No matter how awful the situation, Sedaris eventually relieves readers by adding humor.

His sister Amy Sedaris, an amusing humorist-actress, always admired her older brother. “There’s no one else like him,” Amy Sedaris said. “I think all of my siblings are funny but I always found him the funniest and I always gravitated toward him. I’m not surprised how successful he is.”

Anytime it gets too dark, Sedaris rips open a curtain to allow the sunlight to enter whether he’s writing about his Greek heritage, homosexuality, jobs, education, drug use, or obsessive behaviors, as well as his experiences in France, London and New York.

“I love what I do and it’s fascinating that people have an interest in my life,” Sedaris said. “I opened up this window and I’m so thankful that people want to look in and see what my life is about and where I come from.”