Essayist, humorist Sedaris Tucson-bound

Life on the road sometimes leaves storyteller in a blur
2012-11-22T00:00:00Z Essayist, humorist Sedaris Tucson-boundGerald M. Gay Ggay@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star
November 22, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Author and humorist David Sedaris had trouble nailing down his exact location during a phone interview Monday.

"I am somewhere in Orange County," Sedaris said. "I wish I could be more specific. I see office buildings but there is no real downtown. They don't write it on the key. It feels like nowhere."

For Sedaris, 55, life has become a series of plane trips and hotel stays that tend to leave him in a blur.

Southern California is just one area of the country that Sedaris, who resides in London, is visiting on a whirlwind tour that will take the writer through Centennial Hall on Tuesday.

The trip is meant in part to promote his upcoming book, "Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls" due out in the spring.

He spoke to Caliente about his travels, his family, the book and his recent appearances on late night television.

How has your tour been going so far?

"Yesterday, I was in San Diego. The day before that I was in Sacramento. Last week, I was in North Dakota, the unfriendliest state in the United States.

"It is unbelievable. They have billboards outside of Fargo that say 'Be nice. Thank someone. Be kind.' They have to remind themselves.

"A woman came to my reading. I said to her, 'Thank you for coming.' She said 'I had to come.'

"Then she pushed a book toward me and I signed it. She said 'You need to date it. I need proof for my parole officer that I was here.' "

Is it challenging living out of a suitcase?

"I love doing this. Everybody always wants to give you sympathy. Everybody always wants to say, 'That must be awful.'

"It is not really. I have a trillion airline miles. I usually get upgraded. I don't buy a first-class seat, but I get upgraded if it is at all possible. I stay in nice hotels. I am not making my own arrangements. If something goes wrong, I don't take care of it. I call someone to take care of it.

"People always say it is lonely on the road. No, it is not. Tonight I'm going to talk to hundreds of people. I sign their books and talk to them all. I'm not lonely.

"I had a driver here. He talked the whole time. It was an hour-and-a-half drive. I learned as long as I put Jesus first in my life, everything else will be taken care of. That's what he told me."

You've made some hilarious appearances recently on programs like "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Late, Late Show" with Craig Ferguson. Do you like working the late-night circuit?

"Sometimes, when you go on television, you are nervous and the host just really doesn't care.

"Sometime you go on TV and you are nervous and the host is Jon Stewart, and he comes into your dressing room and he hangs out with you and he remembers your friends' names. He wants you to be relaxed and comfortable because he knows if you are nervous, it is not helping him any either and you are not going to have a good time.

"Craig Ferguson is even better. Most of those shows have pre-interviews. You are getting out there and having a conversation you already had with a producer.

"Craig doesn't want anything like that. He doesn't want you to say anything you said that day."

What can we expect from your new book?

"They are essays and they are kind of all over the place. Over the years, I've met a lot of teenagers. They take part in something called forensics. It is kind of a cross between debate and drama club. They memorize essays or stories and recite them before judges. It is a huge thing.

"I am going to have essays and some poems in the book. Then I'm going to have eight dramatic essays for teenagers to recite in the back of the book.

"These essays are all delivered by characters with an ax to grind. It will give the teenager a chance to act impassioned."

Will your family play a role in the new book?

"I just wrote a story about a colonoscopy that I had. My dad is a major character in that story. My sister Lisa is in there, too.

"They are in the new book. I just sent my sister Lisa a story today about she and I going to a shooting range. We wound up there organically. It was strange to do it. I wrote a story about it and I know there is a story in it. I just want to make sure if the angle I took was the right one.

"I have a pretty good sense of what they don't want people to know. I've never written about drug use. I've written about my own but nobody else's. I don't want to write anything that would prevent anyone from getting a job.

"My brother loves to be written about but he borrowed a lot of money from me. To punish him, I didn't write about him until he paid it back. He just paid it back. Five minutes after, I arranged to rent a house on the beach in North Carolina so I could get more stories out of him."

Will your reading at Centennial Hall be a mix of old and new stuff?

"I've been reading all new things. There is something I wrote when Obama was elected in 2008. It was never published anywhere. I dusted that off. I think it is still relevant. Everything else was written in the last six months.

"I never know if people want that or if they don't. I never read old things or crack open books. I am the one who has to be up there reading it. I don't want to read something that I wrote 10 years ago. All that is over for me."

If you go

• What: An evening with David Sedaris.

• When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

• Where: Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd.

• Tickets: $35-$50 with discounts available. 621-3341.

• Info: uapresents.org

'People always say it is lonely on the road. No, it is not. Tonight I'm going to talk to hundreds of people.'

David Sedaris, author and humorist

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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