Those of us who read “A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries 2003-2020” by David Sedaris will recognize that many of the polished stories in “Happy-Go-Lucky” seem familiar. I was never bored by Happy Go Lucky and I didn’t get angry at David Seders, which I did in “A Carnival of Snackery.” (It took a lot for me to get angry with someone whose faults are all plain to see and are part of what’s fun about him! But I did.)
In Happy-Go-Lucky, there is pain as well as humor. Problematic things that Sedaris hinted at about his relationship with his father Lou are front and center as he visits the suddenly more pleasant and very elderly guy in in his assisted living facility. We learn way more about the dark side of Sedaris’s early years, much of which he minimizes by suggesting it was more about what was acceptable back then than is true. Lou dies at age 98 and there is grief, but mostly the recognition that the less decent parent just died and at 98 it’s hardly a surprise. The remaining children carry out his wishes for a complicated farewell and then the memories come.
Happy-Go-Lucky also has many satisfying narcissistic quirky stories laughs and those moments where you imagine what it would be like to be friends with Sedaris and see his haul after a shopping trip. It has the humanity thrown in of a guy whose book signings are very personal– though they often involve discussions with nurses of what gay men in emergency rooms have gotten stuck where the sun don’t shine. Sedaris is at his judgmental best, when he tries to be mean to a woman who cut the line but finds her laugh repeatedly at what she thinks is a joke when he seriously signs her book, “You are an awful woman”. We find the usual players, Amy, Lisa, Gretchen and Paul with lots of memories of Tiffany. Sedaris is back in my good graces, a guy who is outrageous, yet needs good manners, high end hotels and adoration from his fans. A guy who loves his partner thirty years in, moody and at times difficult, and imagines with pain life alone should Hugh die first. For fans, this is a must read. If you do not know Sedaris, read some of his early books first or this one might be a bit choppy for you.