I was lucky enough to send David Sedaris a fan letter (not email) just before he became one of the most-sought-after interview subjects in pop culture. He sent back a warm note and was agreeable when I got uncharacteristically pushy and asked for an in-person interview. The result was an afternoon with him in his Soho apartment and at various stops in his neighborhood. The full interview ran in the Boston Phoenix in February 1997. Here is an excerpt:
The 40-year-old Sedaris is short, but nothing else about him is elflike today. He's unshaven and dressed in shades of gray and black. His compact New York SoHo apartment will never be mistaken for Santa's Village; nor does it resemble a typical A-lister's abode.
For one thing, there are dead animals everywhere, including a stuffed squirrel atop a stereo speaker, two examples of "some kind of fruit bat" affixed to the wall, a lamp with a base made out of four deer hooves, and a condensed turkey (just the head welded to a foot). The showstopper is a set of four little Boston terriers, each only a few inches tall, peering out in mild alarm from two glass cases, the kind one might use to display souvenir shot glasses from Las Vegas.
"I love things made out of animals," Sedaris says, holding a knife with a hoof for a handle. "It's just so funny to think of someone saying, `I need a letter opener. I guess I'll have to kill a deer.'
"I got a lot of good things for Christmas," he continues, pointing toward a feathery object on a perch near the ceiling. "Like this baby ostrich. My cat doesn't mind the puppies or any of the rest of it, but he hates this ostrich. Twice I found it on the floor with teeth marks on it."
I suddenly notice the large white cat, apparently sleeping, sprawled out on a chair. Dennis was one of the 42 cats the actress Sandy Dennis left behind when she died a couple of years ago, and Sedaris renamed him after his former owner. I don't ask what will happen to the cat's body when his time comes.