Sunday, October 26, 2008

When You are Engulfed in Flames

Our local NPR station (KCLU) has been having their fundraiser this week which in one sense was bad timing since I think everyone has funneled their $$ into the election. On the other hand, one of the items they would give you for a large donation was 2 tickets to see David Sedaris read at a theater in Santa Barbara this weekend. I considered it, but then I didn't want to donate quite that much, then I waffled some more.

When Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim came out I'd gone with a friend to see him read in Rhode Island. We hadn't taken our books figuring there'd be no hope of getting them signed. Yet there he was, signing away. While it was cool to hear his inflections and whatnot when speaking, he mostly just read snippets I'd already heard or things from the book. He answered questions engagingly sure, but was hearing the stories I'd already read worth driving to Santa Barbara? Well gas is down to $3.19 now so I went for it.

Since I wasn't sure, I got some last minute tickets. (I find that one has to buy tickets the first day or at the last minute.) Having learned from last time, I packed up my Sedaris books and took them along just in case. I even found someone to go with me. And we hied up to Santa Barbara. He was signing books in the lobby before the show. My plan had been to get there a little early, but anyone who knows me can predict how that turned out. We did make it on time, but I didn't get things signed.

The show was great. There was an ASL interpreter. He said he was pleased to have her there so we'd have something interesting and enjoyable to watch for the evening. After one story, he asked her again what the signs were for "leprechaun" and "cockmaster" which she duly repeated while laughing hysterically. But mostly he read his work with some unpublished pieces thrown in and it was funny. He did a piece or two that were in the works, he did a piece that got cut from the book because it's more of a presentation piece. If you ever hear him speak the phrase "Nicaraguan French" you'll know what I mean. He read his recent New Yorker piece Undecided with his original wording which was to use the phrase "human shit with broken glass" instead of "platter of shit with broken glass". The "platter" version was better tolerated by editing. Uh, one's classier? Apparently.

Afterward he took questions from the audience. That was meh because people were trying to be clever and failing. But then he said he'd be going back out to the lobby and signing even more books. As an author stalker: Joy!

As I was in line I realized that I had the perfect opportunity to replace my lost copy of "Me Talk Pretty One Day", my favorite of his books, which I somehow lost in the move. My suspicion is that I lent it out then moved before it returned. I bought a new one at the well stocked supply table run by Borders (although I have to say I like the original spine font better). I didn't get any audio versions, but it was a near thing. An hour and a half later at the front of the line found me saying "I apologize in advance, you don't have to sign all 7 books..." But he was very nice and not only signed all 7 books, "Of course I'll sign them!" but signed an older piece I'd printed off the internet, rifled through some papers, showed me a picture of him with a "slave monkey" then gave me his Proof copy of Undecided and signed that too! OMG!! [insert fangrrl squee!] It looked like he still had an hour to go after me but seemed quite happy to do so.

If you're a David Sedaris fan or think you ought to be and he comes to your town, or a town near your town, buy your tickets early (or late!), take your books, and go!

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