Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Bonus Reading: "The Spirit World"

David Sedaris

Lesson time 19:54 min

Watch a complete onstage reading of David’s essay “The Spirit World.”

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Topics include: Bonus Reading: "The Spirit World"


[LIGHT JAZZY MUSIC] DAVID SEDARIS: This is an essay that I wrote it was in the "Paris Review" and was later in an essay collection that I wrote called "Calypso." And the essay is called "The Spirit World." "Our house on Emerald Isle is divided down the middle, and has an E beside one front door and a W beside the other. The east side is ruled by Hugh, and the bedroom we share is on the top floor. It opens onto a deck that overlooks the ocean. It is next to Amy's room, which is the same size as ours but is shaped differently. Unlike Lisa and Paul, who are on the west side of the house and could probably sleep on burlap without noticing it, Amy likes nice sheets. She'd packed a new set in her suitcase, and on the night before Thanksgiving, as I helped her make her bed, she mentioned a friend who had come to her apartment for dinner the previous evening in New York. 'He drinks Coke, right? So I went to the store on the corner to buy some,' she said. 'And you know how those new bottles have names on the labels-- Blake, or Kelly, or whatever?' I nodded. 'Well, there were only two left on the shelf. One with Mom printed on it, and the other with Tiffany.' I reached for a pillowcase. 'Do you think if I were dead and there had been three bottles on the shelf instead of two, the third would have had my name on it?' Amy thought for a moment. 'Yes.' 'So the only Cokes at that store in New York City are for people in our family who have died?' She smoothed out the bedspread. 'Yes.' I couldn't tell if she honestly believed this. It's hard to say with Amy. On the one hand, she's very pragmatic, and on the other, she's open to just about anything. Astrology, for instance. I wouldn't call her a nut exactly, but she has paid good money to have her chart done. And if you're talking about someone, she'll often ask when this person's birthday is and then say something like, 'ah, a Gemini. That makes sense now.' She's big on acupuncture as well, which I also tend to think is dubious, at least for things like allergies. That said, I admire people who are curious and open their minds to new possibilities, especially after a certain age. You have to draw the line somewhere, though, and with me, it's my anus. When I was in my early 30s, it became a thing to have colonics. A number of my friends started going to a man in Chicago and discussing the rubble he'd discovered in their lower intestines. 'A pumpkin seed, and I haven't eat pumpkin in eight years.' Their insides were like pharaoh's tombs-- dark catacombs littered with ancient relics. Now people are giving themselves coffee enemas, believing it wards off and even cures cancer. 'I think I'll take the cancer, thank you very much,' my sister Lisa said to me on Thanksgiving morning. 'Amen to that,' I agreed. Lisa's not open to the things that Paul and Amy are, but she has her equivalence. If you told her, for instance, that she was holding her car keys the wrong way, and that there we...

About the Instructor

With essays in The New Yorker, bestselling books like Calypso, tours, and readings on NPR, David Sedaris is one of the most recognizable essayists alive. Now he teaches you the art of personal storytelling. Learn how David crafts attention-grabbing openings, satisfying endings, and meaning from the mundane—and how he uses humor to connect with others and process the difficult and sometimes dark aspects of everyday life.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

David Sedaris

NYT–bestselling author David Sedaris teaches you how to turn everyday moments into seriously funny stories that connect with audiences.

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