In the ongoing public flagellation of memoir writers, humorist David Sedaris is the latest author to come under scrutiny for the vaidilty of his writing. Are Sedaris’s stories “real”? The New Republic wanted to know last March when the magazine accused him of exaggerating the truth to – gasp! – make a funny.
Well, duh. Anyone of reasonable intelligence who has sat down with one of Sedaris’s hilarious but not entirely probable stories has the understanding that the author, who by all accounts does come from a wacky family, nevertheless delves into far fledge territory. It’s called creative license, Oprah.
In a recent interview with Mother Jones, Sedaris happily chats about his writing and its truthfulness.
Q: So, do you exaggerate?
A: Boy, do I. And if it weren’t for The New Yorker fact-checkers, I’d do it more. I’ve always been up front about that. I think that was what was weird to me about it, was this idea that I had somehow been caught. I had written [in The New Yorker] that my spiders got so obese that their legs started chafing. I talked to the spider expert at the natural history museum, and he said that spiders’ legs never rub together. I said, “No, I know they wouldn’t. I’m just saying it as a joke.” I don’t know how easy [The New Republic] thinks it is to make shit up. To say that a humorist exaggerates to get big laughs, I don’t see how that’s big news.
So, add Sedaris to the list of writers, including Augusten Burroughs and James Frey who knows how to spin a yarn. As for the subject of boyfriend Hugh,, Sedaris told the magazine he lies about him, too:
If there’s any guy standing behind me people will say, “Is that Hugh?” And I’m like, ‘Do you think he has nothing better to do than to travel around with me and stand behind me while I sign books?’ One time, though, there was a beefy Puerto Rican security guy, very stern and very tough, so I told everybody that was Hugh. I could see how irritating that was for him, because here’s everybody thinking that he’s gay and that he’s my boyfriend. But his job was to protect me, not to kill me. So there was nothing he could do about it.
Are you a fan of Sedaris? Have you been to a reading?