Calypso, Sedaris’s 10th collection of diary essays, is a family affair. The action revolves around the Sea Section, an oceanfront cottage on the North Carolina coast that Sedaris and his husband, Hugh, purchased in order to realise his childhood dream that “one day I would buy a beach house and it would be everyone’s, as long as they followed my draconian rules and never stopped thanking me for it”. The Sedaris’s gather and regather there for Thanksgivings and summer vacations. Between confidences shared, board games played and sunscreen slathered, the anecdotes pile up.
Through disarmingly frank descriptions of their idiosyncrasies, vulgarities and charms, he conjures the sort of warts-and-all closeness that family alone can offer. But the shadows also swarm addressing questions of ageing and mortality and as life moves forward and the tragedies pile up, it turns out there are some things it’s impossible to play for laughs. For all its warmth and wit, Calypso is also raw, jagged and sad.
Humour is a funny thing – or is it? It is certainly individual. Although highly regarded, Sedaris’s humour did not appeal to our group of readers – apart from me – I loved it.