Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris

Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002

David Sedaris tells all in a book that is, literally, a lifetime in the making.For forty years, David Sedaris has kept a diary in which he records everything that captures his attention-overheard comments, salacious gossip, soap opera plot twists, secrets confided by total strangers. These observations are the source code for his finest work, and through them he has honed...

Title:Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0316154725
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:514 pages

Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 Reviews

  • Toni
    May 26, 2017

    Dear Diary, I read this book recently that was completely in diary format since the author had, in fact, published 25 years of diary entries, (Volume I apparently), that started when he was about 20-21 years old and has continued on ever since. He started off with brief statements and observations of his day. I guess 1977 to 1983 are his really "bleak" years. Which are typical when you're young, broke and no real goals in life. I think many of us could relate. He's starting to sound a little hum

    Dear Diary, I read this book recently that was completely in diary format since the author had, in fact, published 25 years of diary entries, (Volume I apparently), that started when he was about 20-21 years old and has continued on ever since. He started off with brief statements and observations of his day. I guess 1977 to 1983 are his really "bleak" years. Which are typical when you're young, broke and no real goals in life. I think many of us could relate. He's starting to sound a little humorous.

    "The diary lightened up when I moved to Chicago, partly because I was in a big city and because I felt better about myself." David attended and graduated from the Art Institute here, where many fabulous entries; particularly his writing times at his favorite IHOP near his neighborhood. Bountiful years And he's still alive.

    In 1990 David moves to NYC and the world really opens up to him. Tons of cleaning jobs to earn some cash, millions to observe, and times to write, day or night. He meets Hugh here, thank goodness, gets himself together a bit more, and starts to become the success he is today. You know, that quirky little guy that a reads his books out loud at all different venues; and we pay our hard-earned money to buy tickets to go listen to him, willingly. What a racket! He's really funny though and we all like him. I myself have all his books in print form and audio. Personally, I like sarcasm.

    So diary, it's worth it, I get my own copy today! Amazon is going to drone it over. I'm lying, I pre-ordered it. But I am going to also listen on audio, so much better when David reads it to you. Still, what a racket!

    I'm really disappointed that there are not any pictures in this book. That "New Yorker" article recently got my hopes up for pictures. Oh well. Thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company for the ARC.

    Yay, got tkts to see David in October at the Aronoff Theatre.

  • Julie
    Jun 14, 2017

    David Sedaris explains in the Introduction of his new book that “in the U.K., if you discover something of value and keep it, that's

    .”

    Thus a great title was born, and it suits the general theme of David's diaries. But, I have a suggestion for two alternative titles for this collection, one borrowed from Garth Brooks: "Friends in Low Places" and the other stolen from William Shakespeare:

    .

    Before I proceed, I want to clarify: I am a Sedaris lover, not a hater.

    David Sedaris explains in the Introduction of his new book that “in the U.K., if you discover something of value and keep it, that's

    .”

    Thus a great title was born, and it suits the general theme of David's diaries. But, I have a suggestion for two alternative titles for this collection, one borrowed from Garth Brooks: "Friends in Low Places" and the other stolen from William Shakespeare:

    .

    Before I proceed, I want to clarify: I am a Sedaris lover, not a hater. I love the guy's writing. I've read all but one of his books of published essays.

    But, I feel compelled to say this: If you are not an established reader of Sedaris's work, I would not recommend that you start here. Go read

    or

    .

    Start where Sedaris writes with some polish and some humor, not with the origins of his writing, the “bare bones,” if you will. These are stark observations, and they may or may not appeal.

    It's not that this book isn't often hilariously funny; it is. It's not that this book isn't sometimes poignant; surprisingly, it's that, too. It's just that. . . if you don't know David's writing, I'm not sure you're going to make it past page 75.

    Frankly, David's diary entries from the late 1970s/early 1980s are fairly disgusting. He was a hard core substance abuser at the time, and I found it depressing to read about someone so desperate, down on his hands and knees, snorting an unknown white powder he has found, in the hopes that it is cocaine, or sniffing bags of glue and tempera paint because he has run out of money for better drugs. Also, he shares many anus-focused ruminations (I don't know how else to say this politely!), and these entries contain almost ridiculous amounts of the “n” word, the “p” word and the “c” word. I don't mean to suggest that David himself is “using” these words (both racism and misogyny disgust him); he is just surrounded by the absolute dregs of humanity in scenario after scenario, and these losers love these words, and David reports them.

    For me, the highlight was the center of the book, the mid-80s through the mid-90s, when David starts to get his act together, meets the love of his life and stops living on the total fringe of decent society. This is where the diary entries are laugh-out-loud funny, and I was actually taking pictures of passages and sending them to my sister, who is a Sedaris fan who has not yet received her copy.

    Ironically, once his life becomes

    stable, his regular observations became somewhat boring and my feverish reading slowed, though he did take me to a tender place regarding the premature loss of his mother. That aspect of his writing has always been relatable to me.

    For established Sedaris fans, this is a mostly fun read, despite the degrading and loathsome accounts of humanity it reveals, but, personally, I'm holding out for new material.

    Come on, David, let's hear about life in the U.K.! Crawl under an overpass if you need to, but give us something new!

  • Rachel León
    May 25, 2017

    David Sedaris is funny. And he's funny in his own way. It's like his humor comes in its own flavor that you can't find anywhere else. Which is why when he has a new book come out, it's an event.

    This book is a collection of Sedaris's old diaries. I winced at the idea for a minute, then decided it'd still be worth reading. I wasn't wrong. This book is funny, introspective, and interesting. It's not the best intro to Sedaris for new readers, but fans will enjoy it.

  • Trin
    Apr 18, 2017

    David Sedaris is so authentically David Sedaris. This first collection of his diaries reveal him as everything you'd expect, and want, him to be, and reading it only made me love him more. The feeling of being in the backseat (or perched on the handlebars of his bike, perhaps) as he struggles through his early years is both incredibly reassuring and, of course, hilarious. There is so much fantastic observational humor in this: Sedaris spends loads of time just sitting in various IHOPs and writin

    David Sedaris is so authentically David Sedaris. This first collection of his diaries reveal him as everything you'd expect, and want, him to be, and reading it only made me love him more. The feeling of being in the backseat (or perched on the handlebars of his bike, perhaps) as he struggles through his early years is both incredibly reassuring and, of course, hilarious. There is so much fantastic observational humor in this: Sedaris spends loads of time just sitting in various IHOPs and writing down what people say and do. His eye (ear?) for detail is superb. And his own wonderful personality shines through at every turn.

    Most mind-blowing moment (which I am spoiler-tagging only because I got so much pleasure out of being surprised by it, not because I actually think you can spoil history/reality):

  • Alan Chen
    Jun 07, 2017

    I'm kind of torn with this one, I really like Sedaris, he's funny, self-deprecating and such a good storyteller/memoirist, especially since he's not formally trained. But, I was expecting a short story collection! I wasn't bowled over with his last book but had high hopes because his more recent short stories published in various magazines (New Yorker, Esquire, &c) have been really good, flavored with his usual poignant humor. His life has become a bit of a soap opera for me I like finding o

    I'm kind of torn with this one, I really like Sedaris, he's funny, self-deprecating and such a good storyteller/memoirist, especially since he's not formally trained. But, I was expecting a short story collection! I wasn't bowled over with his last book but had high hopes because his more recent short stories published in various magazines (New Yorker, Esquire, &c) have been really good, flavored with his usual poignant humor. His life has become a bit of a soap opera for me I like finding out how his 90 plus dad is doing, what his hillybilly brother is up to, how his sisters, especially the famous Amy, is driving him off the wall and how he's trying the nerves of his ever-so-perfect brother Hugh. We don't get that in this book. This is a rewind of sorts back to material I'm already somewhat familiar with since it's covered in his many essay collections and are instead excerpts from 30 years or so of his diary. Most of these excerpts are quite short, some of are just screwball observations, a few are fleshed anecdotes and a rare couple are longer stories. I find them mildly amusing but it lacks a punch that a well crafted story has where there is a beginning, middle and an end. I also feel a bit cheated cause it feels like a best of tape of events in his life I already know about: his drug/alcohol abuse, his poor, struggling years, her troubled sister Tiffany that never found her way and relatively young, mom's cancer, dad's canterkerous conservatism, moving to France, &c &c. This isn't to say I didn't have moments where I felt engaged and it's rather nice to hear Sedaris's voice and I did laugh out loud a couple of times but I don't think this is one of his more successful works. I'm still loyal and will read his future efforts, including the likely volume 2 of these diaries, sigh.

  • Book of the Month
    Jun 01, 2017

    Master of the humorous essay (and Book of the Month Judge), David Sedaris has built a career based on his witty observations about everyday life, and his diaries contain a treasure trove of raw material that shaped his distinctive writing. Theft by Finding is a 24-year spree of notes, recounted conversations (that ear for dialogue as honed as ever!), Christmas lists, overheard jokes, recipes, and straight up hilarity. A must-read for any Sedaris fan, this is the perfect book to flip through at r

    Master of the humorous essay (and Book of the Month Judge), David Sedaris has built a career based on his witty observations about everyday life, and his diaries contain a treasure trove of raw material that shaped his distinctive writing. Theft by Finding is a 24-year spree of notes, recounted conversations (that ear for dialogue as honed as ever!), Christmas lists, overheard jokes, recipes, and straight up hilarity. A must-read for any Sedaris fan, this is the perfect book to flip through at random, looking for a gem of a sentence or two to catch your eye and tickle your funny bone.

    — Book of the Month

    Read more at

  • Debra Komar
    Jun 05, 2017

    4.5 stars. I adore Sedaris and this is a strange and wonderful view into his life. It starts slow - as he warns us it will - but once he moves to New York and becomes serious about writing, it is magical. Watching him fall in love with Hugh and become a writer is a joy. There are the usual brilliant one liners and the cutting observations of odd people. It never feels mean-spirited, Sedaris always finds the humanity.

    On a side note, I have seen Sedaris read a number of times over the years and h

    4.5 stars. I adore Sedaris and this is a strange and wonderful view into his life. It starts slow - as he warns us it will - but once he moves to New York and becomes serious about writing, it is magical. Watching him fall in love with Hugh and become a writer is a joy. There are the usual brilliant one liners and the cutting observations of odd people. It never feels mean-spirited, Sedaris always finds the humanity.

    On a side note, I have seen Sedaris read a number of times over the years and have stood in line for hours to get him to sign books. He is spectacular. In the past, however, the readings were always free. This year, if you want to see him in Toronto, you have to pay $40 - 95 to see him at the Air Canada Centre. While I have no doubt he will be brilliant as always, that seems a bit stiff for what is essentially a long commercial for a book. I love you David, just not $95 worth.

  • Krista
    Jun 10, 2017

    I've read quite a bit of David Sedaris and his collections of wry and biting essays, and I think it was in

    that I first learned his work method: Walking around every day with

    I've read quite a bit of David Sedaris and his collections of wry and biting essays, and I think it was in

    that I first learned his work method: Walking around every day with a notebook in his pocket, Sedaris listens in on conversations, interacts with strangers, and otherwise attempts to live a life worth recording; writing it all down in his notebook. At the end of every day, he rewrites these snippets into his diary, and eventually, combs these entries for those stories that would make for wry and biting essays.

    is the first of two compilations of forty years of such diary entries, and as Sedaris warns in the foreword, he edited the diaries himself – leaving out the pages and pages of early meth-fueled rants, but otherwise attempting to provide a fair picture. I guess we'll need to take him at his word. Although Sedaris demurs that he can't imagine anyone reading this book straight through, I did and I found it to be very interesting – a quite satisfying, if somewhat sketchy, method of memoir.

    Probably what I liked best were those entries that marked something I was familiar with from Sedaris' earlier writing – the day he first met the acidic downstairs neighbour, Helen, in New York; casually noting when he first met his partner Hugh; when he first attended the French lessons in Paris that became the title piece in

    – but nearly as satisfying would be all that I didn't know: the early days of poverty and drug- and alcohol-fueled debauchery; that he began his career as a visual artist; that he and his sister Amy made a splash Off-Broadway for years. Sedaris also notes in his foreword that he has never been interested in recording self-reflection – this is a very outward-facing narrative – yet he still tells a tale of hard work (days spent as a handyman or furniture mover followed by evenings reading at the IHOP) and the evolution of his art to the written word. And because he's writing to himself, Sedaris never feels the need to explain anything – in one of his books I had read why he and Hugh moved to France, but here they are just suddenly there; you need to infer when he's on a book tour or just back home visiting family; and it all works.

    The tone of the book, naturally, evolves over time: Sedaris himself grew from a hitch-hiking dropout to a world-famous, polished writer, and by the end, the entries feel like they're

    to be read by others. Compare an early entry from October, 1977:

    And one from December, 2000:

    I will allow that I might have found this more interesting because of my prior dips into Sedaris' writing, but I'm happy to have read the first volume and am looking forward to the second; I wonder if there will be so many people named Pee Wee and references to wheelchairs in it?

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