Why Sedaris is wrong

April 21, 2008 at 8:14 pm (1)

In March a journalist called Alex Heard took the humour-writer David Sedaris to task in The New Republic for embellishing tales of his past to make them funnier. With the painstaking dedication of a Seymour Hirsch probing the neo-cons, he delved into the recesses of the evil Sedaris’s prose, researching people and places mentioned in his ‘real-life’ stories to cast doubt on their authenticity. The reaction among bloggers — Sedaris fans and non-fans alike — was largely in the author’s favour.

Ask me, however, and I think they are wrong. There is no reason to exaggerate your past. When I was 13 my dad would peep into the window of my maths class, knowing me to be mathematicaly impaired, and whisper the answers to equations in my ear. One day, however, Reuben Bennett, a bigger boy, sat in my place – and stayed there for the whole term. My father helped him pass his end-of-term exams with flying colours.

Our teacher, Mr Vaughan, became used to the man who appeared at our classroom window every day. It was only when I failed my exams that dad decided to stop teaching Reuben. I went on to study in a chicken shed in Wales, which owing to a change in UK law, was granted university status and, in time, issued me a degree. My thesis, The Futility Of Algebra, won the National Union of Students’ Most Incoherent Essay prize in 1993.

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Get this

April 15, 2008 at 12:33 pm (1)

Yesterday I posted an entry about my lunch. A burger in Kensington. Then, I deleted it. Then I received a phone from a friend asking why. It filled me with a sense of loss — it was funny, he said. What prompted me to chuck it was the fear that it wasn’t funny. Even if it is, I thought to myself: what’s the point.

At the weekend I finished a book by a well known author — it was about his relationship with his dad. It inspired me to email him:

Dear BM

I am currently in my father’s study and he is behind me wrapping a present for his friend whose birthday it is tonight. It’s a boxing trophy, his friend is not a boxer but he has been a political prisoner in Iran. On its plaque he’s placed a photocopy of a photograph of the chap, with the Latin scripted persian dedication: Reza, you can [punch], but don’t. It only cost him twenty quid, he tells me. (It’s good to send one of these trophy’s to a woman who’s upset you, he says.) Anyway, the reason I am writing, or even where I am today, is because I finished When Did You Last…? this morning and it made me appreciate having my dad still around. You wrote that many people write to you as a sort of oracle for the bereaved but here I am celebrating life.”

The author wrote back to me today. His book was made into a film last year, with a Hollywood actor playing him. And get this, he said he was pleased to receive my email because sometimes he wonders whether it’s worth bothering to write at all.

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Poor taste humour

April 1, 2008 at 6:01 pm (blog)

Met my friend Penny for dinner last night. She told me that a friend of hers came home last week to find her boyfriend had hanged himself in their living room. She cut him down and he fell on top of her.

“Dead body on top of you is okay,” I piped up, “normally happens 10 years into a marriage.”

Seriously though, suicide sucks. Young British Artist Angus Fairhurst was found dead in Scotland this week, ending his own life at 41. No doubt his contemporary Damien Hirst will stick his body in a tank of formaldehyde.

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