So I picked Calypso by David Sedaris as my “Brain Candy” square for CBR10 Bingo, which after reading it, seems like maybe not the best choice, because these short stories are a bit darker than usual. Sedaris’ sister Tiffany committed suicide in 2013, and this, his mother’s alcoholism, and a strange tumour growing on his side become the running topics in many of the stories in his first compilation in five years.
Calypso is still hilariously funny, in exactly the ways you expect it to be. I’ve always had a soft spot for Sedaris and his entire family, mostly because they’re from North Carolina and there are always so many touchpoints to my own childhood growing up there. A newly purchased beach house on Emerald Isle (christened the Sea Section, har har) becomes the centre around which these new stories are woven, and I could just smell the ocean, suntan lotion, wet beach towels and pine paneling as I read.
When I was a kid, we went to the beach every summer—my mom and her three sisters renting a house big enough for themselves, seven cousins (five girls, two boys), one Nana and the occasional dad who dared to show up at this fortress of female bonding. Sedaris captures this family camaraderie—in its grown-up version—in perfect detail, especially the parts where he admits that buying a duplex so he can exile his siblings to the not-so-nice-side of the house is especially pleasing. I can totally empathise.
Calypso has all the things you expect in a Sedaris book, Amy is a perfect foil, his dad is getting older, but he’s still feisty, there are foreign adventures which uncover odd facts, expensive purchases and useless artefacts, and Hugh remains impassive and judgemental, yet loving. Oh, and Rooster is still around, but now, he goes by Paul.