Half the World is Eating Overcooked Donkey
9 9 2018
Half the World is Eating Overcooked Donkey

Sedaris pens a new diary entry here in Mantua

It is hard to tell who was enjoying themselves more: David Sedaris or his audience. Speaking with Luca Briasco at Palazzo San Sebastiano, Sedaris amused all of the spectators, as well as himself, by regaling them with stories from his recent book, Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002).

From hitchhiking and doing odd jobs to studying art and writing, this book is a collection of his diary entries over the years. While he admits the word “diary” often has overly sentimental connotations, Sedaris maintains his word choice, adding: “I don’t write about my feelings. I just think feelings are stupid. I don’t really have feelings.” Instead, he recounts things that he has observed or that have happened to him. As Briasco observes, Sedaris has the unique ability of laughing with people, rather than at them.


Despite the twists and turns in his life, the motivation that carried him through was deeply, and passionately, caring about something. As a child he read books from the library, falling headfirst into the rapturous discovery of reading, he cared so much about these authors and these works that he wanted to tell the whole world about them. When he had to choose between studying art and studying writing, he chose writing because he cared more about it. When he began teaching writing for the first time, he remembers: "I never knew what I was doing. Every day I faked it. But I have to say, I cared."

Indeed, one can see that he holds great esteem for many people, fondly remembering his late literary agent and his lovable eccentricity. Sedaris applauds the bravery of transgender people, admiring them for their bravery to be themselves, calling them his current heroes. He even appreciates the listeners who call into radio talk shows, loving their crazy passion for whatever the topic may be. Furthermore, he extols the wonderfulness of his family and their close connection to one another. When he puts his family into a book, and the book is successful, then he considers it a success for the whole family. They are united in their achievements and in their failures, celebrating for and with each other.

He also found great delight in his Mantuan dinner, stracotto d’asino, mistranslated in the menu as “overcooked donkey,” claiming this experience rightly belongs in a future book, but he fears many American readers, in particular, will doubt the veracity of this story. To these hypothetical readers he responds: “You need to get out more. Half the world is eating overcooked donkey.”