In such best-selling essay collections as Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris has engaged readers with tales of his North Carolina family and assorted odd jobs. In his latest book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, he covers everything from attending his brother's wedding to selling drinks at a state fair. TIME's Josh Tyrangiel caught up with him at his Paris home.
DO YOU EVER WORRY THAT YOU'LL RUN OUT OF HUMILIATING ANECDOTES ABOUT YOUR FAMILY?
I never thought that I wrote about my family that much. I guess I have. But my brother loves to be written about. My sister Tiffany told me years ago, "You can never write about me." Then she called six months ago and said she wanted to be in a story. She was worried people thought I didn't like her.
HOW'S THE MOVIE ADAPTATION OF ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY COMING?
I got out of it. I just couldn't do it. My sister asked me, "Will I be fat in the movie?" and I thought, Wow, I've turned into the devil. The director, Wayne Wang, is a real prince. He already had a script and was close to casting people when I told him. I didn't want him to be mad at me, but he was so grown up about it. I never saw how it could be turned into a movie anyway.
YOU WRITE ABOUT YOUR ADOLESCENCE IN VIVID DETAIL. DID YOU KEEP A DIARY?
I've been keeping diaries for 27 years. For the most part, it's just garbage, so I go through them, take whatever's good and make a master list. In the summer of 1984, I've got on June 23 that I saw a drunk woman drop her baby. And then an episode of Oprah that was particularly good on July 3. I used to type my diary and then have it bound. Now I print it out. I do one every season, and it has to have a seasonal cover. It's a lot of work for something no one's ever going to see.
HAS ANYONE EVER READ IT?
My former boyfriend read it once, and he was mainly mad because he wasn't in it. I said, "Yes, you are." Then I looked, and he wasn't mentioned. It was as if he didn't exist. If you read somebody's diary, you get what you deserve.
YOU SPLIT YOUR TIME BETWEEN LONDON AND PARIS. WHICH DO YOU LIKE BETTER?
In Paris you're always surrounded by French people. As a foreigner in London, I like that there are so many other foreigners. You can have little moments with them where you realize you're both passing [as Brits]. If you need to, you can fake an accent.
WILL YOU EVER MOVE BACK TO THE U.S.?
People ask if I miss it, but they don't understand that American culture is so ubiquitous that there's nothing to miss. I don't see myself moving back. It's not that I hate the United States. I just always thought it would be a shame not to live in a foreign country. Plus I like being a foreigner. It keeps me on my toes.
I UNDERSTAND YOU HAVE A JOB IN LONDON?
Had. It was a volunteer job, working with an organization called Age Concern. I think it's creepy to talk about volunteer work if you're doing it from the kindness of your heart, but that was never my motive. I don't have a working visa, and I just wanted to ride the subway and look around and say, "Look at us. We're all going to work."
YOU'VE WRITTEN ABOUT SOME OF YOUR ODD JOBS. WHICH WAS THE ODDEST?