NEPA Scene Staff

Bestselling humorist David Sedaris gives free talk and signs books at Scranton Cultural Center on March 31

Bestselling humorist David Sedaris gives free talk and signs books at Scranton Cultural Center on March 31
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From a press release:

In early 2020, the Lackawanna County Library System announced that bestselling author David Sedaris, whose personal essays and humorous social commentary have earned him recognition as one of America’s greatest living humor writers, would deliver the American Masters Lecture that year.

The pandemic delayed those plans a few times, but tickets are now available at all Lackawanna County libraries for the rescheduled event on Thursday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at the Scranton Cultural Center (420 N. Washington Ave., Scranton). Tickets can also be obtained online via Eventbrite; the lecture is free with a Lackawanna County Library System library card.

Sedaris will be signing books following his talk. Several titles will be available for purchase on the night of the event, courtesy of the Library Express Bookstore at The Marketplace at Steamtown.

Sedaris is the author of 11 collections of essays, many of which appeared first in The New Yorker, and two collections from his diaries. The titles of his books alone suggest the wit to be found within – “Barrel Fever,” “Holidays on Ice,” “Naked,” “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim,” “When You Are Engulfed in Flames,” “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls,” and “Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)” – and each became an immediate bestseller.

His most recent book, “A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020),” was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice selection. The audiobook was a finalist for the Audie Award in Humor.

“Sedaris’s droll assessment of the mundane and the eccentrics who inhabit the world’s crevices make him one of the greatest humorists writing today,” a reviewer for the Chicago Tribune said.

The San Francisco Chronicle added, “Sedaris belongs on any list of people writing in English at the moment who are revising our ideas about what’s funny.”

In addition to articles and books, the 65-year-old wordsmith has gained an audience through his commentaries on “CBS Sunday Morning,” and his voice has become known from National Public Radio.

He was born in Johnson City, New York, where his father worked as an IBM engineer before moving his family to Raleigh, North Carolina, where Sedaris grew up.

Much of his early writing was about his family and the cultural milieu he experienced as the son of an Episcopalian mother and Greek Orthodox father. He was raised in his father’s faith.

His formal education was rather scattered. He briefly attended Western Carolina University before transferring to Kent State University, where he quickly dropped out. Eventually, he moved to Chicago where he graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Throughout his teens and 20s, Sedaris experimented with visual and performance art, and the failure he experienced then gave him fodder for several early essays.

His pieces regularly appear in The New Yorker and have twice been included in “The Best American Essays.” There are over 10 million copies of his books in print, and they have been translated into 25 languages.

He was awarded the Terry Southern Prize for Humor, as well as the Medal for Spoken Language from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

His sister – actress, author, and comedian Amy Sedaris – was a speaker for the Library System’s Matthew F. Flynn Library Lecture Series in 2014. Together, they have written several plays under the name “The Talent Family.”

“We are extremely proud to be hosting David Sedaris during his tour of American cities and campuses,” said Mary Garm, director of the Lackawanna County Library System.

“Because we expect such a large turnout, we are starting ticket distribution in the system’s libraries on February 22,” she added. “That will give library patrons the first opportunity to obtain seats for the lecture. We will add online distribution of tickets one week later so that his fans throughout the region can get a chance to hear him.”

Previous American Masters Lecture speakers have included historians Michael Beschloss, Douglas Brinkley, David McCullough, and James McPherson; author, journalist and filmmaker Sebastian Junger; author, actress, social critic, and humorist Fran Lebowitz; theoretical physicist and futurist Michio Kaku; undersea explorer and Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard; and legendary Dallas Cowboy running back Emmitt Smith.

2019’s speaker was Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner for his 2016 novel “The Underground Railroad.” His book “The Nickel Boys,” published in 2019, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His most recent book, “Harlem Shuffle,” was published last year.

The American Masters Lecture has been on hiatus since 2019 due to COVID-19.