My Experience Meeting One of My Literary Heroes: David Sedaris

When I moved to Boston, one of the first things I did was try to find out whether David Sedaris was having any book signings near me for his recently released Calypso (which I have yet to read). Unfortunately, he would not be anywhere close to where I was until the summertime, long after freshman year ended.  

I had spent my senior year reading up on David Sedaris. I had never read comedy before and he introduced me to the genre, though I had found him in a college-prep-guide citing him as a good author to relax with. I decided to pick up one of his books, the first one being Me Talk Pretty Too. Before this, as I tend to take influence from who I’m currently reading, I had adopted a fancier writing style. David Sedaris taught me that colloquialism is okay. Each one of his little stories ended in a way that pulled at my heartstrings. He understood that art was often in its simplicity and overall expression. 

My writing changed after this—I found myself focusing more on the overall effect of the written word than diction or style. 

At the end of freshman year, I decided that I would probably benefit academically from taking summer courses. Luckily enough, Sedaris would be in Cambridge during this period of time. Unluckily, though, he would be there a day before one of my exams. I still decided to make it, studying even on Harvard Campus. Sedaris was there at the Harvard Book Store, where I arrived a couple of hours early to check in and then hung around. 

The Harvard Bookstore

I went home sometime between then and nighttime and returned to find a line circling around the bookstore. It took me an hour to get to the table, and until then I just listened to Sedaris talk with his readers. He took care to hold conversations with everyone who came to him, which made me both excited and nervous. 

And of course, I rambled about God-knows-what—how I was taking summer classes, how I did or didn’t like my classes, etc. Then, I told him I was a freshman, so he dedicated his signature to “Anchita, the gentle freshman,” which was a bit embarrassing for me, but thoughtful of him. As we spoke he doodled into my book, and as we concluded our conversation, he told me to wait for a second as he dug through the bag he had at his feet. He asked me what shampoo I was currently using, and offered me a small bottle. 

Sedaris handed me a small bottle of L’Occitane shampoo that he collected from his stay at the Four Seasons.

My hair was a mess that day, the corks and curls of it defining gravity, so I was inclined to take his gift as an insult, though a couple of minutes of research helped me conclude that his gift was purely out of goodwill and a possible like for me.  

I went home wishing I had said or done something different—something more outstanding. But I had the satisfaction of knowing that I had told David Sedaris about his influence on my work. That, to me, was the most important thing that I or anyone else could have done because most writers seek to have an impact on readers. I hope to be able to attend another event of his to see him again!


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