My husband was working in the Netherlands this past week, and my kids were at camp, so I had some free time. Around twenty hours, to be exact. I wrote every moment that I had, and at night I worked through my enormous stack of books to read. Here’s a couple from that pile, with more to come. Theft By Finding, and Everything I Never Told You.
Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, David Sedaris
If you can’t have David Sedaris as your real-life friend, this is perhaps the next best thing. Diary entries spanning almost thirty years capture the mundane, the bizarre, and the daily kindnesses and terrors of everyday life.
Sedaris takes note of all of the absurdities, and reading this made me more observant in my own life. It also will probably inspire a whole lot of people to be more frequent diary writers. David Sedaris is funny, as always, but it is the very quotidian nature of a brilliant mind struggling to find itself that is so moving here.
Be aware that this is a 514 page massive hardbacked tome at this point in time. In the introduction, he suggests flipping through and reading in whatever order you want, a bit at a time. Because I’m obstinate, I read it cover to cover, and I liked seeing his development as a writer and a person.
Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng
This was a really tough one for me, as far as subject matter goes. I probably should have just put it down, but the author is coming to my area this fall and I wanted to get through it. Anyway, assuming you don’t have my own particular areas of sensitivity, here’s my take on it.
A girl disappears and is found dead, and the book centers around the question of how, or if, the family will survive this. We get backstory on the parents and the siblings. Ng does a brilliant job of showing how the forces of racism and sexism work to constrict the characters’ lives and diminish their options.
We see how the lack of communication between them threatens their bonds, and how they wound each other deeply and unintentionally. This is Ng’s genius, the small ways we are casually cruel, and the outsized consequences of misunderstanding. Things start to look up in the very last few pages, but the pain on these pages was, for me, almost unbearable. I would highly recommend it, unless you’ve had a recent loss. Then, maybe wait a little while.