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Calypso by David Sedaris


by David Sedaris

Quick take

The one-and-only David Sedaris's latest collection may be his most poignant, hilarious, and sharp-eyed yet.

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    Light read

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Why I love it

Liberty Hardy
BOTM Judge

When I worked as a bookseller, the thing I dreaded hearing more than anything was, “I want to read something funny.” In my experience, you could fill a canyon with books that are sad or poignant, or full of mystery or romance. But trying to find a book that will make someone actually laugh is tremendously difficult. Luckily, every three or four years, David Sedaris comes out with another uproarious essay collection to help in that department.

Sedaris is the king of translating his observations and experiences into witty pieces that can also be tremendously moving. He addresses serious subjects effortlessly, never more so than in Calypso, which primarily tackles the subject of aging, a topic Sedaris works into astute observations on his need for—and fear of—a physical, his siblings’ health issues, or his father (who takes a spin class at the age of 91!). Whether it’s a story about shopping in Japan, his beach house, his family, his Fitbit obsession, his sister’s death, or astrology, he always turns his wit to the task of dissecting the nuances of being human, which, I think, takes far more talent than being just raunchy or shocking.

Sedaris is smart and clever, but also delightfully shameless (he is a master at the humble brag), occasionally naughty (the brainstorming session about what to name the beach house is A+ material), and a little strange, too. Instead of quoting something funny from the book, I will just say I started laughing out loud on page two, and I continued to laugh through the whole book (as well as tear up a time or two).

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If you've ever laughed your way through David Sedaris's cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think you know what you're getting with Calypso. You'd be wrong. When he buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, Sedaris envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lounging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at the Sea Section, as he names the vacation home, is exactly as idyllic as he imagined, except for one tiny, vexing realization: It's impossible to take a vacation from yourself.

With Calypso, Sedaris sets his formidable powers of observation toward middle age and mortality. Make no mistake: These stories are very, very funny—it's a book that can make you laugh till you snort, the way only family can. Sedaris's writing has never been sharper, and his ability to shock readers into laughter unparalleled. But much of the comedy here is born out of that vertiginous moment when your own body betrays you and you realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future.

This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk and love a good tumor joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris's darkest and warmest book yet—and it just might be his very best.

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Member thoughts

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All (6035)
Love (3031)
Like (2294)
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6227 ratings
  • 49% Love
  • 37% Like
  • 11% Dislike
  • Panorama City, CA

    It’s David Sedaris of course I love it. It’s funny, weird with pockets of sentimentality and heart. Best part: where he’s asking people to tell him the most foul-mouthed angry tirade they use or heard

  • Caldwell, NJ

    Mr. Sedaris uses humor to tackle some darker subjects, like his mother’s alcoholism, his sister’s suicide, his father’s aging and the 2016 presidential election. He forgives no one, including himself.

  • Avon Lake , OH

    First Sedaris book for me and I’m livid that I have deprived myself of this man for so many years! Brilliant, funny, endearing, heartfelt stories that hit home! Will now binge all his previous books!

  • New York, NY

    My first David Sedaris book and I now want to buy every single one. I don’t think I’ve ever read a more distinctive and poignant voice. Both hilarious and personal, I’d give it 7 stars if I could!

  • Pittsburgh, PA

    Another beautiful book of essays and story from the master. These stories are darker and a bit more personal but delivered with David’s signature charm and wit. I laughed out loud throughout. So good!

  • Glendale, AZ

    honest and hilarious. Can’t wait to read his other work. I laughed, but was also touched at the more personal details and tragedies. I could really connect with this and it was effortlessly enjoyable.

  • Fishers, IN

    I loved this. The essays were hilarious, though dark at times. I’d never read Sedaris before, but there was something familiar in his words like he was a long time friend I just now found out I had.

  • West Sacramento, CA

    I was laughing out loud throughout this book. My husband had to repeatedly tell me “shhhhh”, as I was loud cackling the entire time. I loved it and felt the need for more humorous books in my life.

  • Wallingford, PA

    Calypso is different- still very, laugh-out-loud funny, but also sweetly reverent. Sedaris writes about his family with such blatent honesty, you can’t help but love them as much as he clearly does.

  • Littleton, CO

    David Sedaris's wiring in Calypso is extremely genuine. His stories and depiction of his characters, which in this book are mainly his family members with some encounters with strangers, is just joyful

  • Addison, IL

    While certainly not Sedaris's best, Calypso was laugh-out-loud funny at points. These stories were wrapped up in family drama, and while some moments caused eye rolls, his overindulgence wasn't wasted


    Each chapter being its own story made it easy to read between busy parts of my day. I love his humor and his art of telling stories. Even if you disagree with his insights you've laugh at his delivery

  • Algonquin, IL

    Calypso was the right combination of real-world relating scenarios mixed with the humor that is David Sedaris. I found myself laughing out loud more than not. Highly recommend for a heartfilled read.

  • Milford, OH

    Sedaris at his best, dealing with mortality and family in typically sardonic and wise fashion. I am envious of his life and its fullness compared to most families, but I am glad to spend time with him

  • Salt Lake City, UT

    There is something about David Sedaris’ dark humor that I cannot get enough of, and this one hit the spot. Astute and laugh-out-loud hilarious, as always. Maybe even better than usual! I need more!!

  • Smithfield , UT

    Hilarious. Endearing. Witty. Succinct. Great collection of personal stories, laced with tenderness. One or two brief yet highly personal details that made me uncomfortable. In all, an excellent read.

  • Youngsville , NC

    I think I fall into the smaller category of people who prefer to read, rather than listen, to David Sedaris. I freaking loved his newest collection. Hilarious. And honestly thought provoking in places

  • Sherman Oaks, CA

    I loved the insight into his family life. There were some very real passages about David dealing with his sister's suicide, and how the rest of his family did or didn't deal with it. Overall hilarious

  • Olathe, KS

    This was my first time reading Sedaris, and to be honest it took me a while to get into his style and his personalty quirks. But by the second half of the book I really started to enjoy the quirkiness

  • Lone Tree, CO

    David Sedaris doesn’t disappoint! His quirky anecdotes are so interesting and funny to read. It’s nice to get into the head of someone who notices everything and remember to stop and look around.

  • Calypso
  • Trick Mirror
  • Shrill
  • Fair Play
  • What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker
  • Thick