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David Sedaris: Songs for My Father

A conversation with the best-selling author and humorist on his lifelong love of jazz

David Sedaris
David Sedaris (photo by Ingrid Christie)

David Sedaris is well known as an author and essayist whose stories about his family and travels have delighted audiences since he began appearing on NPR in the early 1990s. But even the writer’s fans might not be aware of his deep passion for and knowledge of jazz, an interest he inherited in part from his father, Lou. “If anything happens to me,” Sedaris has said, “the one thing my father wants is my iPod.” On that iPod are hundreds of jazz cuts, everything from Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln to Duke Pearson and Jessica Williams. Living mostly in a small village in England, Sedaris is an obsessive walker who can rack up as many as 30 miles per day. It is during those walks that he listens to jazz and to audiobooks and podcasts. (And picks up trash, lots of it.)

Sedaris’ most recent book is a collection of diary items, Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002. Also newly available is a compilation of the art from his diaries, David Sedaris Diaries: A Visual Compendium, edited by his friend Jeffrey Jenkins. Forthcoming projects include Calypso, a book of recent short stories and essays, most of which take place in Emerald Isle, N.C., where he owns a beach house; and a second volume of diary items, A Carnival of Snackery, which covers 2003 to the present. The author also reads his often hilarious, sometimes poignant stories in public, doing around 100 dates a year at theaters throughout North America, Europe and Australia.

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