Book Club Review: "Calypso" by David Sedaris
The book that the Emerald City Book Worms, Andreea and Ozzy, read for the Seasonal Book Club is....
Calypso by David Sedaris!
Congratulations to Shelby, who guessed the book correctly! Shelby, we hope that you enjoy your prize of "tea for one set" while you curl up with your next good read!
The books will be available to be borrowed from the Concierge desk, for two weeks at a time, by Residents. We hope you stop by to pick up a copy, and we'd love to hear back from you with your own thoughts on the book!
According to Andreea, Calypso is a melancholic non-fiction collection of tales about the author (David's) life and those in it; namely, his partner and family.
Primarily, the theme surrounds the challenges of dealing with one's own mortality; this is explored through some darkly humorous moments that carry the book forward while also making it a paradoxically light read, considering the heavy theme.
Many of the stories take place at David's North Carolina vacation home, named in a "punny" way: "The Sea Section". It is here that he often spends time with his family, and reflects upon both his past and present, while only sometimes pondering the future. He often recalls his late mother, while trying to maintain a relationship with his stubborn father.
"'The secret to Dad's longevity isn't diet or exercise, or even his genes.' I've often said to Paul and my sisters. 'He's just late for death, the way he's been late for everything else all his life.'
There are things I avoid talking about with my father now - politics, for instance. He's always operated on the assumption that I don't know anything, can't know anything, really. The issues are as far beyond my grasp as they are for the chimps in the calendar he gave me. Sure, one might pull a lever in a voting booth, but there could be no actual thought behind it.
The fight we had following Trump's election had been particularly ugly, and we could easily have it again every hour of every day. I don't want to, though, don't want what could be the last words we say to each other to be ugly. It's why I didn't bring up Jim Comey during our visit. Easier to put on a straw hat that once belonged to my mother and to accept with grave the framed postcards and nature calendars I dropped into an airport trash can before boarding my flight to Washington. It wasn't where they belonged, necessarily. It was just where they ended up." (Sedaris, 259.)
Ozzy wrote a stellar summary of the book, which is as follows:
"For this season’s book the Emerald city book club have chosen to read and review Calypso by: David Sedaris. In this book we are taken on a voyage to the Emerald Isles, where we meet David Sedaris and his long time partner Hugh Hamrick, and their beach house that they are very proud of and is where they regularly play host to the rest of his family for reunions and thanksgiving dinners. There is one concern that we have going through this book, David is turning 50 and going through his hilarious mid life crisis, and what a journey that he takes us on. The way he expresses himself and things he ponders are almost the same things that I think of on a personal level. He thinks of all the times of when he was younger and all his experiences he went through especially when it comes to his wonderful/ quirky memories with his family. Throughout this book David’s social outlook during his mid-life crisis is hilarious he isn't afraid of thinking out of the social norm and doing what he thinks is right at the moment and hearing the lectures that Hugh would give him for not doing the “right thing/ the norm”
We also meet his family that have their own set of issues just like any normal family. His father a 90 year old Fox junkie, His brother Paul and his teenage Daughter, His four sisters Lisa, Amy, Gretchen and Tiffany the sister that in my opinion lived like a bag lady for many years. During all of this you find out that David’s mother has passed away from lung cancer complicated by alcoholism, this affects him and has his mind thinking how weird it is to become older than your parent when it's something that shouldn't happen in his mind. Then they have to endure another tragedy the engulf this family ( that you will need to read to find out) but is sad and handled in a very special way.
More than that, David, who tours frequently for book signings, has some scares on the road (One of the funnier passages involves a colonoscopy.)Then there was his obsession to Fitbit, where he made it his mission to continuously surpass his own goals. To the point of killing his training apparatus and as he writes he has a sense of freedom. His mind wouldn't let him and after five days he replaced his training overlord. None of this book is ha-ha funny or even late night/raunchy comedy funny. Yet David’s humor is offbeat, quirky and snarky, and it hits the funny bone."
This book is an interesting read because the story isn't so much in what is written, but what seeps between the lines and the connections it makes within itself. In a way, the book is written as if we are actually exploring David's mind; it's not a progressive and chronological novel that follows a typical climax-graph story line. It's refreshing yet intriguing, and that's what makes it stand out.
Calypso's collection of tales made me consider my own jumbled-up thoughts in a deeper and inter-connected way, after all, even the little thoughts, challenges, and inquisitive thoughts we all have yet keep to ourselves have value because they form who we are as individuals. Ultimately, by exploring David's mind, you're inspired to also understand your own.
Ozzy also believes there is a sense of importance to read this book; not only as a pastime but also something to reflect one's own life. It shows no matter what obstacles that your are facing on your own or even as a family there is always another way to look at it. Also that going through a midlife crisis isn't the best experience in the world but, there are two takeaways from this book that I, at least, took from it. One is that going through it with family and your spouse/partner comes out being funnier and more enjoyable then doing it alone. Second is that thinking about the past is also a great way to know that everything that you went through has shaped you into the person you are today and I can only expect that your awesome! ( since you're reading my review)
Andreea gave this book 4 stars out of 5, as it is an interesting and memorable read, but does have some slower parts that can get a tad mundane (I guess such is life though, which is ultimately a big point of this book!).
Ozzy's impression of this book is that he loved every second of it. I have never before read any of David Sedaris’ work before, but now I can say that I would love to dive into more of his books. His dark humor really fits into my sense of humor and I wish that I had that outlook on life especially when I hit his age. In a weird way it gave me a sense that no matter what happens good or bad there so many ways of looking at things, and its okay to act out of the norm and still having a sense of fulfillment. Also somewhere out there is a beach house with our names on it, a little piece of heaven. I do recommend this book to adults I think it would be tough on young adults, due to his dark humor and not afraid of expressing himself using vulgar and descriptive language. All in all this was one entertaining and engaging book that I would love to read again.My rating for Calypso is: 4.5 beach houses out of 5.
All the best,
Andreea & Ozzy
The Emerald City One Book Worms.