January 30th, 2024
Dr. Jim Reese has been pen pals with David Sedaris since 2008. “It all started with a letter David wrote to my Mount Marty students. He sells millions of books, is a ‘Rock Star’ in the literary world and beyond. He meets all of his fans after each of his shows. I’m not sure I’ve met a more generous writer and a more sincere person who truly wants to help other writers by his actions and words.”
Reese opened for Sedaris’ show, David Sedaris Live, in October at the Orpheum Theater Center in Sioux Falls. Dr. Reese, an accomplished writer in his own right, is the associate professor of English at Mount Marty University, Director of the Great Plains Writers Tour, Paddlefish Editor-in-Chief, and treble hook. Editor-in-Chief (both Paddlefish and Treble hook are Mount Marty publications).
“I think Jim got two weeks’ notice maybe? He’d clearly practiced what he read—great delivery—and it was timed to the second. And it was entertaining and everyone loved it so it was tens across the board,” said Sedaris of Reese’s opening act.
Sedaris is a heavyweight author. According to the Steven Barclay Agency, over 16 million copies of his books are now in print. He has been awarded countless prizes for his work, including Time’s 2001 Humorist of the Year award. He has also been nominated for five Grammy awards for Best Spoken Word and Best Comedy Album.
Reese values his time with Sedaris. “I’ve been teaching his books since I was a graduate assistant at the University of Nebraska. There’s not another author that connects quite as well with my students or readers that I can think of. Sedaris has a gift of mixing humor with the weight of the world and that’s why millions of people read his work. He’s not afraid to tell it like it is. He understands, like author Mary Karr has said, ‘A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it.’ And David Sedaris isn’t afraid to write about these true family and personal memoirs. His work and words continue to help me become a better teacher, writer and person,” said Reese.
So, Dr. Reese, what was it like opening for David Sedaris?
“In one word – Rhapsody!”