One evening shortly before Thanksgiving 2012 a good friend and I whiled away half an evening in a bookshop in San Francisco. Having been in the states for about a month, I had realised that with the exception of required reading at school, I wasn’t well versed in modern American literature. My year in the US seemed the perfect time to rectify this, and so while we perused the shelves I mentally listed all the titles and authors I wanted to sample. The list of books I want to read is infinitely longer than the time I have to do so, but I keep collecting names that were relevant, and picking up books as I happen across them.
One of the North Carolinian names was David Sedaris, essayist and humourist, and so when I spotted a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day in a Midhurst charity shop, I picked it up as perfect reading for my return trip to Durham in May. I must admit I was a bit surprised to find chance on one of the earlier books by Sedaris (who is not well-known here) but didn’t think too much of it. I very much enjoyed the read, passing it on to a colleague after she regaled the tale of her daughter’s first trip to the speech therapist in which the little girl responded to the therapists’ prompting by highlighting the fact that mummy couldn’t pronounce her ‘Rs’ properly either.
What does West Sussex have in common with North Carolina? Not a lot, in fact the contrast in my experience living in the two places is so breath-takingly massive I wonder if it would ever be possible to explain to anyone. Anyone except perhaps David Sedaris, who it turns out lives here too now, and occupies his non-writing time by litter-picking the lanes around his house, for which he has had the grand honour of a bin lorry named after him. It’s a very loose connection, some might say not even a real connection at all, but in a small way it comforts me to know that the world is not so big or so separate that there isn’t someone within 25miles that could understand both living there and living here.