Attendees at the David Sedaris reading at Odessa College, line up after the show to get books signed by the author, November 2015 (KXWT / Tom Michael).
This weekend, another public radio personality visited West Texas. About two weeks prior, Jad Abumrad of Radiolab gave a talk in Midland, and on Friday, David Sedaris appeared in Odessa.
We got to know him from appearances on This American Life and from his sarcastic holiday stories played on NPR. And from books like Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Holidays On Ice, and Barrel Fever.
This show at Odessa College’s Deaderick Hall is publically supported. “Through the support of hotel-motel funding and donations,” said Ryan McGuire, who is on the Board as Treasurer with the Odessa Council for Arts & Humanities.
Carrying an armful of his books, Cindy Campbell never thought she’d see the author in the Permian Basin. “But I’m so glad Odessa is doing this,” she said, “because I’ve tried to catch him places. You know it’s usually like maybe Dallas or Houston. Once I tried to go to Washington D.C., when my son lived up there. I live in Lamesa now and here he is, an hour away.”
Some came from even further away, like Ellen Ruggia of Alpine. Does she often come here for cultural events? “Hmmm, no. Every couple of years, maybe.”
David Sedaris was introduced by Randy Ham, director of the Odessa Council for the Arts & Humanities. The author declined interviews and no photography or recordings were allowed. But on stage – talking about his family and reading pages from his diary – he showed an appreciative crowd he’s as funny in person as he is on radio and the printed page.
Amy Ellis, who works part-time in a bookstore, also made the long trek from the Big Bend. “That was on my Life List. I thought was never ever ever going to get see him, because I live in Alpine. It was hysterical”
For years, she tried to get his publicist to send him to Front Street Books in Alpine. She thought – down in quirky Big Bend country – he’d get easy material for his funny stories. “Because I thought we could take him down to Terlingua and he could have about six books in one evening.”