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This American Lie, by Alex Heard

This American Lie, by Alex Heard

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Published by The New Republic
Greg Mortenson, meet David Sedaris. Back in 2007, Alex Heard looked into the "non-fiction" of the acclaimed humorist and storyteller.
Greg Mortenson, meet David Sedaris. Back in 2007, Alex Heard looked into the "non-fiction" of the acclaimed humorist and storyteller.

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: The New Republic on Apr 18, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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04/25/2012

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‘T
he events
dcribd i  ori ar ral,” u-mori Daid Sdari wro i  iroducory o o
 
 Naked 
, i 1997 collcio o ocio -ay.
Te New York imes
wa coicd: W
 Naked 
i  b-llr li, i cagorizd book a ocio. T Library o Cogr calld i biograpy,ad Sdari aurd ral iriwr or  yar a book wa ially acual. “Eryig i
 Naked 
wa ru,” old  wbzi
GettingIt 
i 1999. “I ma, I xaggra. Bu all iuaio wr ru.”Gra. Excp a om ig i
 Naked 
ar’ ru,  i  you allow or a xra-wiggly diio o “xaggra.” Sarwi  ory calld “Dix Hill,” i wic Daid i a 13-yar-oldo ummr acaio i 1970. Hi acrbic (ad ow dcad)mom, Saro Sdari, dcr a  a o olur or a jobomwr. Sic Daid i a ri lil guy,  ca i gazoward  a mal opial o  ou id o i om-ow, Ralig, Nor Carolia. “Doroa Dix Saiarium,” S-dari iorm u, wa a bizarr madou markd by “a blakcoloy o Goic buildig” ad r wo limb “rmbld palid gr o mad cii appig agai  wi-dow i arc o r brai.”
Tis American Lie
 A midget guitar teacher, a Macy’s elf, and the truth about David Sedaris.
Alex HeArd
 Alex Gross The New Republic March 19, 2007
35
Ta’ uy, bu wa com x i’ ma a a jok; you’ruppod o ik i rally appd. Daid oddl io mal opial ad ll a rcpioi ’ rporig or duy.S awr i crwball-comdy dialogu—“ll m, o, ar you by ay cac a curr rid?”—bu allow im i ay-way. Wi o raiig a all, ’  o o work wi a “plum-colord” Arica Amrica ordrly ak-amd Clarc Pool.Sorly, y’r i acio, yakig a ia old lady o r bdad rappig r o a gury:
“I’ll ak r up op ad you g  ,” [Clarc] aid. “Com o,gray, you’r goig or a rid.W   wa lid, I waockd o dicor a i woma wa akd. I ad r bor a akd woma ad iad ju log oug or r o lurcorward ad ik r rmaiig r  io my orarm.
Wow. Call m a kpic, bu a did’ oud likly. So Imad om call, workig roug a w bafd a mploy- uil I oud Margar Rayor, a 62-yar-old rgirdur wo a workd a Dix ic 1969. Rayor ad rrad “Dix Hill” bor. I axd r a copy ad  pod.Wa did  ik?
 
36
March 19, 2007 The New Republic
“H’ lyg rg  !”  a—lly—br clg m  mr bv acal rrr. Tr’ Gc ayg  Dx Hll. T mablg, McBry,  a g, w -ca Rvval rcr lar wcc.  acly  call DraDx Hal,  “aarm.” Tr arbg r   gr, a r waa vlr rgram back   arly ’70. B  wa carlly rgaz, a acI abrb w I v Dx rcly,m Rayr, a la rg a cra-bk k   al lbrary.Jgg by l war cl, Dxwa  ara: I 1972, all  NrCarla’ mal al wr cally rbk bca  baar c-. A r wa, vly, a rga-z rl r yg vlr, clga 16-yar-l am B Brw wa ar  a 1973 ry  Ralg
News and Observer 
. B r -—“bg w  a, crgm  cal v, wrg lr rm”— awlly lg cmarw Sar’ balr al.Ev ,   , I c K S-ar rbably  vlr a Dx.Wy? Bca I call m a ak.H ay  , a I blv m. Dr-g a lg cvra rm  m-rary r  ky—wr  a bl  ryg  q mkg, rgy—Sar wa amrably  lg my m bxq ab  ar--blv g I a  m   r. Ham a  am   Dx  ll a r yar aa  jcy al wClarc ’ ak lac.a m by bar  cmc xaggra-. I’    abrly mbl-l cr r lag— a al l r ay mr. I Iwr, “I wa  gvr, I rw  my w kl,” y kw I’m kg. I’   r— a lg a -al c—a y rrm -la, agr ak a a malal w y ’.A Sar ly ’. W Iak m ab   a Dx,  a, a gl vc  may l kw a lv, “I wl av b mr lklg   ar.” Ta clar  .Evryg 
 Naked 
wa r, xc r ar a wr’.
A
t this point,
I ca alm arrg  NPR lr ayg,
Uh oh, is this guy about to give myman Sedaris the James Frey treatment? 
N. I  k Sar xaggra mc r a wrr g  clabl. A ar g vral wkac-cckg r   bk—
 Barrel Fever 
(1994),
 Naked 
 (1997),
 Me alk Pretty One Day
(2000), a
 Dress Your  Family in Corduroy and  Denim
(2004)—I’ rcm-m a   OraMm alg  a w l, clg all  -cl rlckr a  EmrHav  cam   m-mr  1996; la  wmw ar ry a ar, ck,r l; a  g   mm, wally wa -malz  aarcam-g clcé.O  l , I wa a a w Iar my  ll rjc, a I llam—mly. O b  yg S-ar’ wrk  a I lar mr abm, a r’ ly  lk. H’ aag cmc yl w  c-ly rag ( 2006 Prc- graa c, bl 
Te New Yorker 
la yar,     - g I’v vr ra), a  m b gg br w ag.A a magaz r a wrr, I alamr  wrk c. I  mc a
Te New York imes Maga-zine
—a r c ab wy lv  V w “COPS”—a wa a ral r. Ta’ w I rbcam awar  Sar’ mrb-abl (b r) backry, wcvlv a amazg m-rr-ar a ly cl ava rg cl. B-w  m  r   cllg  1977 a bcam a bgam m 15 yar lar, Sar ar —rrmg maal labr aa clar a mvr, balg rg a-c, lgly llg  jral a b-cam  ba r  lar wrk, a gvgcllg ar ry, w, arg  m-’80,   crav wrg a Scl   Ar I  Ccag.T alllja mm cam rg 1992 lay a, w Sar ra ac c  NPR call “Saa-La Dar,” wc rc  x-rc wrkg a a l a Macy’Saala. (Y,  rally wa mly aSaala. Bb Ra, a Macy’ xcvw wrk r w Sar waar, rmmbr m a “a a-g l.”) Bk blr cam callg,a Sar ar crg  c r NPR’ “T Amrca L,”
 Es-quire
,
GQ
, a
Te New Yorker 
a v-ally ma m am.A a kw,  r ar largly a-bgracal a  ccr y ccrrc rm  yar a a -jbra. H r gra bjc  amly— aly g  Sar,  a L, a blg Bra Pack  La,Grc, Amy (w a rm- cma a ar r w rg), ay,a Pal. Dav’ ra Wr Ll Gay Gy wgrw   a cay-b-car-g al. g ’ ml-lw vr m—
 Dress Your  Family in Corduroy and Denim
a glr bk a
 Naked 
—’ y ab lg vryby   amly av , clg ml.I’ all ry y, b, lk may ra-r, I’v  wr , a avr,’ all r.  amly r, r m ar, vr rck m a a ar blv— Sar k m a llam, rakly—b vry w a ,cally 
 Naked 
a
 Me alk PrettyOne Day
, y cm acr mga  lk a wr fg  ck.Ovr  yar, a I wac rc wrr g w  fam—Fry, S Gla, Jay Blar, “mkyg” gy a
Slate
—I w-r wy   a cck  Amr-ca’ avr c m. S I c   myl.  ral wa lg aacag, a  l m  a largrq: wr “c” maayg w y’r alkg abmr wrr w am  fbbrzg r r cmc c.Sar ’ aar  k , a craly ’  ml a a jr-al. I rvw, ’ gra ab m
 Esquire
 m  cvr l aa mrg  Px. T rblm: Ha  rrc ml  wa acally a. “I cl’ xaggra a all,” l a rvwr. “I gav m a wlw arca r l w ca -ly ll  r, bca l j’ alway ay wa I wa m .”Fr Sar, ’ all ab llg “g -r.” Drg r cvra,  l m wl’ car a b     aFrak McCr’
 Angela’s Ashes
wa wr- by “m gy  Maa w ma wl g ,” bca  al    bal.OK, b la m I cck, y’r  call a c. Sar -
 Alex Heard is the editorial director of 
Outside
magazine.
   (   f   om L  e  f  t    )    Ge  t  t  I   m Ge   s  e  t  e  t  I   me  t  /  e  e   ;   Ge  t  t  I   m Ge   s  e  t  e  t  I   me  t  /   s   c  ot  t   GI   e   s   ;   Ge  t  t  I   m Ge   s  e  w s  /   c I    s   o o s  
 
The New Republic March 19, 2007
37 
ly d’   dic, d iudic i’ cmpliig. Suld b gd ug     u?
T
o answer that
qui, I d  y  gu u  i uui Sdi’ bk. My md c-id  i-ig  uv, lkig i  md cckbl (my ’), d lucig  f  -mil didiic-udig cld-cll  dig dp.I  iiil g— my ly c i “Dix Hill”—I  upid id  m   id billbdv cckd u. W Sdi  cllg  K S i 1976–1977,  -lly did icik m Oi  NCli i  gil i  lci ( d-cibd i “T Icmpl Qud,” m
 Naked 
). Hi ccu  Rlig cmmu-iy- pccdill cic 1972 (“TDm Bug,”
 Naked 
)   ccumckd. Ad, ug I d limiducc cckig  mily i—vybdy bu Dvid, Lu, d iy dclid  lk  m—  pp-ly  pid i ic  uididmily mmb md um c  uld b l (“u Dc-iv,”
 Naked 
).Bu m i cllpd lik  ky Jg , icludig    -lci i Sdi’ u bk,
 MeTalk Pretty One Day
. Ty b ciuig bici, d  bic-i m. Idd, i Sdi d’md up igic v d dilgui  pic,  uld’ v d“ci” i  ll.I “Gi Dm, Midg Abilii,”Dvid i lv, d i dd, Lu—IBM gi d gumpy Gk  iuully dpicd   igd d  i—c im  k gui l m c   ppig mll  im i  Rlig. T c i “pcly md midg” m Sdik-m “Mi Mcii.Sdi c ld  ivi  x-gg ppl “up,” mkig m b-  y . ’ d   iMcii’ c. Sdi dcib im  bdly dd cbll i  “ig dg” vic. Kid i  mll zz im(“G bck  Oz, mucki”), bu, l yu l  ympic, Mcii’ dd cdm im  c. H’ lc ( ll Dvid  uld m igui   xy bb) d  m-pb. T y climx  Dvid,pig   Mcii  
really
   d, i u i  cb c,i ic  imi Billi Hlidy ig-ig  Oc My blg jigl.Mcii k u: “‘Hy, guy,’  id.‘Yu c ld i ig . I’m  i c. ...   ply  cbll lik yu bck i Al, bum, I d’ ig  y—yu g i?’G i? Mcii ik Dvid   i blg. I’  uy, d, i yuid i i  k  ici, yu udi-c mig b. O, i, Sdi did y i i  k  ci: T Mcii c-c, i im md “M. Cm,” p-p i 
 Barrel Fever 
pic, clly lbldci, clld “My Mucip.” (I
 Barrel  Fever 
, ulik i ubqu bk,  cldiici  md bici d ici i.) Cmdid’ mk muc   impi  ci-ic, bu Mcii u did. Rvi k y  c, d y xc-d migul c m i v-bl midg jk. “N dub  c’p mbd im,” J. Pd Z i 
 News and Observer 
vvi  Sdi’ k, “bu  i  cl pi, ic i l-c— i   yulk ud  d, ’ ll lil g.” I 
 LA Weekly
 vi,  dkig -ci umi Hy Aldpid, “W l   cildSdi v   lug iim, d i u ympy ... id i  c   by ibig cizd  big gy, vll c i   ll   plii-clly cc c. bd   i ppd. Wll, ig ppd. Sdi did bify kgui l m  lil p, bu md up Mcii’ yl, quik, dpc, d  ivd  mm Mcii ug yug Dvid mkig  p  im. Sdi dmid muc duig u ivi, bu I l-dy l u  i, bcu I’d ud m , lik Sdi, k gui l- m Mcii     cild.T m ud i 49-y-ld L.M.(Sm) Hki, d  m quicdibl. H k   Excuiv S-cuiy Bc   Kucky S P-lic, ic m  pc GvEi Flc d i i, Gl. Tc’ m  Gg Sg, d,ug I  ubl  lc Sg, liv dd, Hki y    xcl-l iuc. T l kd: i dy, Hki mk x my plyig jzz gui   id, d S-di’ dpici  i ld m b- im. “My cllci  cc pd  M. Mcii   m  Dvid Sdi’,” y. “Gg Sg   vy iu-midd gui c. I m idbd im, bcu, iu i pic im   ud, gui uld  b igl p  my li  i i dy.T m ig pp i “G C-li,”  y i ic -gd Dvid idd i  pc-py cl b-cu  lip. Sdi uld v yu b-liv , by i im,   ldy lmbyly gy d  ly  dimilly y ld  cmplld  kpc py. “N   py u-d  gil,”  i. “Ty  llby lik m  kp mvi  cp-bk d md i  cui.”Tig did’ uld  y. Sdild m ,  did i ld picipl Bk Elmy Scl,  id R-lig duc md J Mll.Mll ’ gy  dig y (ic I xd), ju cud. “Id’ udd y  ik  uldmk dcii bu  pccl bd  uc c,” id. “I’m y i md y  im.”Yu’ll ic  ll xmpl u  ivlv Li-l Dvid, bu  y lik“Nkd” (ic Sdi -pd    39) c b ju  fimy. Idd, ug y’ ubjc m i ivil,“Nkd” vl p  p-p ugu  bk, mkigll  
 Naked 
m iy. T pblm i dilgu. Sdi  v didpuig d i ppl’ mu (“I x-gg ildly,   k   y.Mly i dilgu,”  c ld  N Ol
Times-Picayune
) bu bdy b  k  cucil ll-up: D py pc c  dii?y d i “Nkd.” ug Sdid’ m  udi cmp  viid y   i  i, i  EmpiHv,  dy  i  FigLk gi  N Yk. A  lg,gulig qu, I lcd Empi Hv’ c-,  m md Ml Rbi, ll   lgim gul md M-ly Scl. Ty id Sdi’ k bly mbld  cmp y k, dScl  picully dd by Sd-i’ ypig  udi  ck dk. Rbi  bl  idiy m bid  “Nkd” cc mdDuy,  cmic uci i  idiculSdi bu i ciid y. “O,” Duy pu   pi, “yu’ ll ju  -piicd iig i yu lil cé dlkig up   Empi S Buildigil    u li ud i yckmkig u ccb pip.“T p ’ lkig bu d’v  il b i i bdy,” Ml

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Alex Heard interviewed Greg Mortenson regarding the alleged fabrications in his book, "Three Cups of Tea" and "Stones Into Schools." Here, Alex Heard looks into the humorist and storyteller David Sedaris!
Scribd added this note
Alex Heard interviewed Greg Mortenson regarding the alleged fabrications in his book, "Three Cups of Tea" and "Stones Into Schools." Here, Alex Heard looks into the humorist and storyteller David Sedaris!
Claire Hennessy added this note
I adore David Sedaris but it is interesting to read about his 'exaggerations'. Still love him but I agree that there is a thin line between fiction and non-fiction.
7BILLIONHUMANBEING added this note
great truth write factual read thanks
Scribd added this note
Alex Heard interviewed Greg Mortenson regarding the alleged fabrications in his book, "Three Cups of Tea" and "Stones Into Schools." Here, Alex Heard looks into the humorist and storyteller David Sedaris!
Kate Hamill added this note
fascinating - and timely - look at one of the great living "memoirists" of our time: david sedaris.
The New Republic added this note
Today, Alex Heard interviewed Greg Mortenson for Outside magazine about alleged fabrications in Mortenson's books, Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools. Back in 2007, Heard looked into David Sedaris's "non-fiction" and found the essayist used similarly slippery facts. Thanks to @chashomans for pointing out the coincidence.
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