Mike Daisey has been roundly and justly castigated for selling his bullshit stories about visiting the Foxconn complex in Shenzhen, China, to This American Life. But even some of his harshest critics are buying into the idea that, in some contexts—just not "journalistic ones"—it's OK to tell little lies in service of a "larger truth."
Author/humorist David Sedaris turns 52 today. Jared Leto is 37. CNN's Candy Crowley is 60. AOL chief Randy Falco is 55. Senator Evan Bayh is 53. America's Most Wanted's John Walsh is 63. Chris Daughtry is 29. And record producer (and possible murderer) Phil Spector celebrates his 68th today. Weekend birthdays after the jump.
Last week, comedian/author/VH1 dude Michael Ian Black started a feud with memoirist David Sedaris in preparation for the release of his own book, My Custom Van: And 50 Other Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face. I decided to ask him about that, and a bunch of other things, at around the time of night when I used to watch Battlestar Galactica. The deeply insightful results after the jump.
A while back, I was the one responsible for publishing a rumor about David Sedaris—one of my favorite dropouts/essayists—picking up dudes on his book tours. Now poor Sedaris, a noted Luddite, is being asked about it, and it's just not true! "The Internet is so new to me. I didn't realize you could just go on and lie about people." Oh, David, you totally can. If he's paying special attention to anyone, it's teenage girls, he says!
Actor/comedian/VH1 fixture Michael Ian Black is sick to death of memoirist David Sedaris hogging all the best-seller lists for himself, so he's taking the NPR man down. To get the ball rolling on his would-be literary feud-and to promote his own book, My Custom Van: And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face-Black offers suggestions on ways to belittle Sedaris in casual conversation. "Say, for example, you are at league bowling night and your buddy finds himself facing an easy pick-up for a spare. Just before he bowls say something like, 'Don't miss, Bob, or you might hear David Sedaris telling a long and humorous story about what a boob you are on 'This American Life.'"
Barnes & Noble got in a snit last week about the truthiness of essayist David Sedaris's stories, and listed his latest collection, When You Are Engulfed in Flames as fiction. (Sedaris has called his stories "97% true, and the missing 3% must have put them over the edge.) But now they're back to calling it nonfiction. It was all just a big misunderstanding, they say—a B&N spokeswoman told the Observer's Leon Neyfakh that the "fiction" listing was just a mistake made by Nielsen Bookscan, not them! Really! [NY Observer]
It comes as no great surprise that not every single bit of unhinged essayist David Sedaris's essays are true. But they are mostly true, Sedaris says—enough to be filed under nonfiction at the bookstore, anyway. WRONG, says Barnes & Noble. "Apparently Barnes & Noble doesn't care what Mr. Sedaris thinks: an official chart distributed to publishers that shows sales figures for the week ending 06/23 defiantly has Mr. Sedaris's new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, listed under "Adult Fiction Hardcover." [NY Observer] If that wasn't bad enough, our lovely commenter tribalpottery chimes in to tell us the details of Sedaris's alleged cruise-y freakiness at a book reading:
New Yorker fact checkers are freaking out about submissions from comic writer and accused bullshitter David Sedaris, so sister Amy Sedaris (also comic writer, arguably funnier) had some fun: "Once, a checker asked Amy to verify if it was true that 'David paid her a dime for a chicken leg at childhood dinners.' But the comic star caused havoc when she jokingly said she was actually paid 20 cents, forcing the checker to call David back about the conflicting facts in his piece." [Post]
Remember when you could smoke, like, everywhere in America? David Sedaris does in this week's New Yorker: "When I was in fourth grade, my class took a field trip to the American Tobacco plant in nearby Durham, North Carolina. There we witnessed the making of cigarettes and were given free packs to take home to our parents." Sedaris goes on to helpfully explain which kind of cigarette goes with what kind of person: "Kools and Newports were for black people and lower-class whites..."
While Hollywood has yet to spark to David Sedaris quite as enthusiastically as they have his sister Amy (why we've yet to see the movie based on that Barrel Fever story about the adopted Vietnamese hooker is beyond us. And they say there aren't enough great parts for women. Hmph!), we're certain the NPR-listening and book-reading factions among you are already familiar with his work.
Jack Shafer is all "where's the outrage" about the recent revelations that known bullshitter David Sedaris sometimes bullshits. In a sweeping j'accuse against the New Yorker fact-checking department, the Washington Post's Peter Carlson and Sedaris himself, Shafer blasts the bullshitting memoirist for using the word "exaggerated" to describe some of the more bullshitty elements of his work:
So the David Sedaris takedown piece that we've waited so long for has finally arrived, courtesy of the folks at The New Republic. Unfortunately, the takedown has nothing to do with the fact that Sedaris is essentially the Dave Barry for the NPR set. Instead, it focuses on the fact that—wait for it—some of Sedaris' obvious bullshit is, uh, bullshit. For those of you who don't have a subscription, here's what TNR (who know from fake writers) has discovered about America's Greatest Middlebrow Humorist.