Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Plague, David Sedaris, Laughing and All That Is

So, the answer to Sophie's drinking strike last week and horrendous number of seizures, including the hideous gelastic ones, is probably a virus. I've been feeling puny and peaked the last few days and am most decidedly not well today. I've got cotton or something in my head and tears pricking at the backs of my eyes -- not the ones of sorrow -- and while I am able to be up and around and doing the daily shit I have to do, I'm ailing. The Brothers went to school, but both are feeling less than perfect, and who knows if The Husband will come down with it as well. It seems like this year has been a bad one for the stealth viruses for our family. I personally haven't felt great since I came back sick from a business trip I took to Washington, D.C. in early January. I think I'm going to blame it on the government.

Last night, I went to hear David Sedaris at UCLA, an annual treat, and as usual he did not disappoint. He read from his new book, told raucous stories, read from his diary and regaled us with the most vulgar jokes you could ever imagine. That man is funny, but he's also incredibly sweet, and I told my friend this morning that I just know he'd love us if he met us. The show was sold out, and the entire auditorium rocked with laughter which, to me, is about the best thing one can do if your heart is aching and you're tired of it all.

The other thing you can do is read a good book, and while I'm making my way through War and Peace, I'm also reading James Salter's novel All That Is. What a book -- the kind of perfect old-fashioned, carefully crafted writing that one rarely reads anymore -- not pretentious and overdone but real Writing. It's not a cheerful book, by any means, and the ambiance is similar to the stifling decadence and glamour of the show Mad Men. I just can't put it down. Here are two lines that stood out the other day enough for me to text them to a friend:

It seemed his manhood had suddenly caught up with him, as if it had been waiting somewhere in the wings.


She looked as if difficulty of any kind was a remote thing.

I can relate to that last one. It's an awesome line, no?

Reader, what are you reading?


  1. I love that you go to see David Sedaris every year. He is an absolute treat! I am very sorry that you are not feeling well, but I hope it means you give yourself permission to lie down a bit with a cup of tea and a good book and I hope the boys don't get too sick because there's nothing worse than having to take care of others when you aren't feeling well.

    I just finished "A Tale for the Time Being," a rare foray into fiction that I loved and Evan Handler's "Time on Fire" - a memoir of his cancer treatments, which I found funny and a sad commentary on one of the "best" cancer treatment hospitals in the world, supposedly.

    Hope you are well soon.

  2. Just finished "Let The Great World Spin" on your excellent recommendation. I took my time and savored it.
    Esquire just did a long piece on Salter and I had written him down to look for a book by him in the library and will do that.
    I have just today started "Kurt Vonnegut: Letters". And am listening to (with great delight) Neal Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's "Good Omens." Also recently listened to Christopher Moore's "Sacre Bleu" which was a really clever and well done novel about painting and painters and The Muse. And the color blue. And baking bread.
    I'm so glad you got to laugh. And if David Sedaris did get to meet you, he would adore you.

  3. a virus in your life is so much more complicated than one in mine. it's like earthquake magnitudes - what do they call that? it's a quantum thing I think

    reading Titus Groan (Mervyn Peake) and The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood) .... I tend to want to go to other worlds and/or eras when I read

    it's good to laugh though :)

  4. Hoping you all feel better soon and Miss Sophie can keep those monsters at bay.

    I feel for me, health wise, this entire year has totally sucked. My autoimmune stuff kicking my butt. As for the rest of the last year not healthwise, that has similarly sucked on many levels. What can you do?

    I am reading, or rather re-reading, 'A Grief Observed' by C.S. Lewis and a new, not so well written but full of insight and quotes a like, called 'Buddhist Bootcamp'. The writer had a book signing at the little bookstore I love, so I picked one up.

  5. I'm also reading David Sedaris's latest book. "Attaboy" had me laughing so hard in the bed I thought I would have to go to another room so I didn't wake my husband up.

    I listen to his audio books when Max is in the hospital...a little twisted, but laughter is the best medicine!

  6. I am reading Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers and I am not loving it but I guess I will push through (why, nothing better on my bedside table). I did love Hugh Howey's Wool. Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 might be next. I should try something funny.

  7. I just added Salter to my library request list. They haven't bought Jamie Quatro and it's driving me nuts. I'm re-reading the Harry Potter books right now because none of my library holds have come in. I'm excited to get the new Kate Atkinson, The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, the new Kent Haruf and the new Isabel Allende, even though I have yet to ever finish a book by Allende. The "Tale for the Time Being" is on hold for me as well.

    I hope you feel better soon. I had a weird chest business that I thought was pneumonia last week. But Saturday, I woke up and it was gone, as if it had never been. Hope your recovery is also speedy.

    Did you ever read "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?"? I've been remembering this week how much I loved it.

    The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles had that similar Mad Men tone. It was set in Manhattan in the (20's I think). I enjoyed it.

    1. I've been told by two people whose opinion I respect and whose taste I share that The Flamethrowers is excellent. I might read that next. I'm sort of done with Katie Atkinson -- haven't liked her last few books. And I did read Where'd You Go, Bernadette -- it was a fun read. I'm getting so old that I forget plots of books immediately after reading them, which doesn't bode well for War and Peace.

  8. Just finished John Mortimer's Titmus Regained. Excellent. Others are on mindfulness and meditation.

    I just love David Sedaris. I used to see him every year, and when my daughter was 13 I started taking her. He told her that she was a pretty cool kid to be out with her MOM. She told him she wanted to be a broadway star, and he signed her book "I'll be looking for your name in lights." What a treasure.

    Sorry to hear everyone's been hit with a virus == but is it a relief of sorts to know why Sophie was in such bad shape?

  9. What a relief, to know that Sophie's symptoms were due to something sort of ordinary. May you be well, may each member of your family be well, may all sentient beings be well.

    I've only read one of David Sedaris' books, and it is a scream. Thank God for comedy and laughter.

  10. I'm not GLAD to hear it may be a virus, exactly, but if that's the case at least it's something that will pass.

    As I've mentioned here before, I love David Sedaris. Every time I find one of his pieces in The New Yorker it lifts my day. He's funny but also seems very human and approachable, you know? (Apparently he lives in London now -- I thought he lived in Paris, but some of his last magazine pieces have been about London. I don't think I'd even know him if I saw him on the street.)

    I'm just starting "Flight Behavior" by Barbara Kingsolver.

    1. Sedaris actually lives in Sussex. I think you should visit him -- just show up and say that you're an American. :)

      I really enjoyed Kingsolver's book -- it's a tad dull but it stuck with me for weeks afterward. She's a beautiful writer, and the subject matter is sobering.

  11. I think seeing David Sedaris live would be a cure for anything :)
    sending love --- feel better!

  12. I am reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King and it is excellent so far. I am a huge Stephen King fan :) I hope you and the family all feel better soon.

  13. So glad you had one night of laughter...

  14. I love that line! Love David Sedaris, and couldn't agree more that laughter is the best medicine!



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