Why am I implying such an awful thing about a fellow writer?
Well I’m about to tell you.
I’ll start by saying David Sedaris is one of my favorite authors so when I heard an acquaintance of mine say that she thought he was lame and hard to get into and frankly just ‘blows,’ I took immediate umbrage.
No, I’m not about to to slam her. I actually feel sorry for this woman because the only explanation I can come up with is that her reading muscle is weak.
There once was an amazing bookstore called The Madison Avenue Bookshop that sadly closed its doors a decade or so ago. It was on Madison between 69th and 70th owned by a sweet man by the name of Arthur Loeb and a haven for anyone who loved to read.
“Cut to the chase Susannah.”
“I will, if you give me a chance.”
I was in my 20s hardly able to get through anything short of the current Harper’s Bazaar when Tom, one of the cute, smart guys who worked there having listened to me flog myself for being unread and stupid suddenly said, “Reading is like a muscle, the more you do it the stronger it becomes.” That bit of what might sound like pompous propaganda changed everything for me. From that moment on, you could say, my mind was in training.
The person who said this about Sedaris doesn’t read. If I see her scanning The New York Post I’m surprised. This isn’t a put down but a fact so it’s no wonder he eludes her since her reading muscle has clearly atrophied.
“So what’s your point?”
“My point is it’s a bloody, fucking shame.”
TV and the internet have wrecked the world’s desire to read. I can proudly say I don’t have cable in my home since its absence forces me to read and write. I’d be there too, making love to the remote control if I had 300 channels to choose from.
“So you never watch anything?”
“PBS, on my computer. It’s great. Quality over quantity. A couple hours of Masterpiece sets me up for a month.”
“Well excuse us. Susannah, has anyone ever told you you’re a real snob?”
“No, because I’m not. I’m going to tell you something I don’t tell everybody. I never went to school and it’s something I seriously regret. I wanted to be a model so badly that my education simply fell through the cracks.”
“But that lifestyle had to be exciting, all that glamor and travel. I bet you could teach us a thing or two.”
“Well, it depends on what you want to learn. While my peers were studying to be professionals I was snorting cocaine in Milan, so if you need a quick tutorial on nasal reconstruction, I’m your girl.”
“Are you ever serious?”
“Not if I can help it…
Look, education is a divine thing. Why do you think I read the way I do? I hunger for it. I may have missed out on college but this is where books come in. They are so willing to share what they know, all you need to do is to pick them up, like literary hookers.”
“If we send self-addressed envelopes can we get the limited edition Susannah Bianchi library card?”
“Make jokes, go ahead but I know not one of you who bothers to read this is stupid. You all get what I’m saying.”
The woman that started this whole thing happens to be very talented. She’s an accomplished dancer, singer but can hardly speak about anything other than who wore what to the Tonys and her grammar is positively frightening. Reading helps you there too. After your 20th book or so suddenly you start sounding better.
“Do you know what the real shame is here?”
“That we’re reading today’s blog?”
“That one’s fallowness can be so easily corrected.”
“Look it up.”
Anyway, all I really intended to say was that David Sedaris is a great writer. He’s the first writer to ever make me involuntarily laugh on the subway. His essays are smart, funny and in many cases poignant and I believe he speaks to everybody. Have you ever read Holiday on Ice? The stories are hilarious plus it makes a great stocking stuffer. He was an elf at Macy’s for God’s sake, who wouldn’t giggle over that?
As far as the anti-Sedaris singer, dancer non-reader goes, maybe the next time we meet she’ll turn to me and say, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and she actually will.”
And for the record,
I am not a snob!!!