was one thing. A lot of my glue-eating preschool friends liked Reading Rainbow
, the PBS program that allowed Star Trek
characters to read to you through the television. I never really warmed up to virtual reading and was more of a Mr. Rogers
girl. But still, Reading Rainbow
had its place.
Last night, I caught the second half of Letterman
, just in time to see David Sedaris read part of a short story to the audience. Letterman introduced him with the phrase, "Once again, here's David Sedaris..." so I assume he's already appeared on the show at least once.
I love David Sedaris. I have loved him since Me Talk Pretty One Day
came out in paperback. Last year, I saw him read at Vanderbilt. After the reading, Sedaris thoughtfully wrote: "Claire, you're doing it ALL WRONG!" in my program. His books are even sold in grocery stores, a fact I find both appalling and uplifting. David Sedaris might be the closest thing we have to a celebrity novelist these days (Stephen King, John Grisham and Anne Rice aside. And they will remain aside because they blow big monkey chunks). If the Shins and Coldplay are the "it" bands to like, David Sedaris is the "it" author. But I'm not sure how I feel about him appearing on TV.
Writers are an unsightly bunch. I have seen many of them read over the years, mainly because I'm a big dork. Joyce Carol Oats dresses like a schoolmarm. Kurt Vonnegut is extremely frail these days, and Sarah Vowell, bless her heart, looks like a troll. They mumble, they sweat and they stumble over their words. David Sedaris is a tiny man with yellow teeth and a lisp that never really went away. He was charming and quaint at the Vanderbilt reading, but he doesn't look so good on the same television show on which Lindsay Lohan appeared the night before.
Because of a pressing commercial break, Sedaris only had time to read part of his story. Yes, that's right; they invited an author to stand at a podium and read part
of a story from a book that he looked at the entire time. How mildly awkward.
Do we really need people to read to us through the television? Why can't we waddle over to the local bookstore (even if that bookstore is named WalMart) and read the words ourselves?
But on the other hand, anything that makes reading popular again is fine by me. Magazines and newspapers like to spout statistics like, "only 20 percent of Americans read books!" I find the startling low numbers incongruous with the popularity of Borders and Barnes & Noble, but who am I to argue with Time
? And you can't throw a used copy of Catcher in the Rye
without hitting an aspiring writer. I assume all of these would-be writers actually read books, but maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, Americans don't read, and that's kind of embarrassing. So what if the funny-looking author now has a regular spot on Late Night with David Letterman
? If more people buy his books, then I guess it's okay.
And on the other
other hand, David Sedaris is funny and I liked watching him on TV even if he did look nervous and unnatural.
Although I'd like it much better if he came with King Friday and a self-aware trolley.