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September 2, 2022 19 min

For the next few months, we’re sharing some of our favorite conversations from the podcast’s archives. This one was originally published on June 2, 2017.

The essayist and humorist David Sedaris started keeping diaries nearly half a century ago, and in 2017 he published a broad selection of entries from them in his book “Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002).” On the podcast, he talked about how the diaries evolved, the kinds of details and eccentricities that tend to catch his eye, and the process of combing through thousands of pages to produce this 500-page book.

“I have a hundred and, I believe, 64 volumes of my diary, and each one is thicker than this book,” he says. “And a lot of it is crazy person — tiny letters, front and back page. So this is just a tiny fraction of my diary. … I tried to detach myself, and think, Would this be of interest to anyone? I mean, a lot of it wasn’t even interesting to me. Or, it was just interesting for, you know, nostalgic reasons. So I was just looking for things that might possibly interest someone who I don’t know.”

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