Treatment Abuse, Behavior Modification, Thought Reform > Elan School

RIP Tiffany Sedaris

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Hey it’s Eliscu2 too! ❁Aw, let’s all have a group hug…oh, wait…my bad [waves warmly from a non triggering distance to all] :P

You should read his memoir, Naked. This asshole actually belittles her for what Elan did to her. David has always been a pretentious asshole

I have and Agreed. As did she.

His portrayal of her has never been consistently kind. It came across as moments of remote warmth through derision and shades of keeping her one dimensionally displayed in as an accessory to his backstory –his dimension.   

This Essay titled: "Can you keep a secret? Family memoirs break taboos – and trust" addresses (among other authors’ subjects) Tiffany Sedaris’ objections about her brother’s use of her in his stories and even posthumously he denied her wish.

The relevant excerpt from the article:
Tangled lives

--- Quote ---With tongue in cheek, David Sedaris addresses the blurring of memory and imagination by describing his family memoirs as “realish”. Sedaris has forged a successful career by recounting the foibles of his family life in best-selling collections such as Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004).
David Sedaris' book Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004) was the first his sister Tiffany allowed him to include her in. Little Brown & Co.
Along the way, his sister, Tiffany, requested to be left out of his stories. In a 2004 interview with the Boston Globe, she said “I was the only [sibling] who told him not to put me in his books. I don’t trust David to have boundaries”. Like Aursland, she became upset by the consequences of the stories. People read them as fact, and an invitation to discuss her private life.
In 2014, Sedaris came under fire for an essay he published in the New Yorker, Now We Are Five. The essay describes the Sedaris family’s attempt to deal with their grief over Tiffany’s suicide.
A friend of Tiffany, Michael Knoblach, published a letter in the Somerville Journal accusing Sedaris of ignoring her request not to be a subject in his stories and exploiting her death for artistic and monetary gain.

Should Sedaris have published Now We Are Five after his sister’s death? Some may argue that he should have respected her request not to be represented in his stories. On the other hand, the story is also about her parents, and her siblings. It speaks candidly about grief, guilt, and the way death jolts us into reality. Even when faced with estrangement and loss, the life of the family remains intertwined.
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[...]The letter has since been taken down, but a similar version is reposted in the comments  here

--- Quote ---I was the last person on this earth to speak with Tiffany Sedaris. We were close friends for nearly a dozen years. The night before she killed herself, she begged me to go along with her to her family reunion,in order to help her through the anxiety over the event. I agreed to go, promising to rent a vehicle, so she could flee at a moment’s notice, should she feel uncomfortable.I even had her a little excited to show me around where she grew up and had her howling with laughter. I expressed the depth of my love and affection for her as a friend, and did so again, when we spoke very briefly the next day… It wasn’t enough.
I know (or can logically guess at) reasons small and large why she committed suicide. I was her friend. I do not give a hoot what anyone else says about this letter. I will do whatever is required of me to defend her honor and legacy. I only wish I could have saved her and have her back in this world.
I found David Sedaris’ article, “Now We Are Five” in the Oct. 28, 2013, New Yorker to be obviously self serving, often grossly inaccurate, almost completely unresearched, and, at times,outright callous. Some of her family had been more than decent, loving and kind to her. “Two lousy boxes”, is Not Tiffany’s legacy. After her sister left with that meager lot, her house was still filled with treasures. Over two vanloads of possessions were pulled from there and other locations by friends. She was a hoarder, of items worthless to most but vitally important to her. There were fantastic art materials; milk crates full of angular rocks (good ones), each crate containing one round stone, which perfectly fits the hand, bearing signs of some form of unorthodox flint knapping to bash and hammer the rocks into shapes she needed; dozens of boxes of antique broken ceramics or stained glass for her mosaics (many dug out of the ground from a hidden 19th century dump whose location she shared only with me); my favorite broken bit being the bottom part of a piece of green McCoy pottery, that now only said “Coy”, (pure Tiffany wit); ephemera, old cdv photos, old letters; fragments of vintage children’s books, her collection of antique baleen corsets, an original picture sleeve from the Little Richard 45 “ooh! my soul/true, fine mama”; her antique baby blue high chair, in part covered with ancient happy dolphin decals, in which sat a doll (representing her) and an old stuffed animal; a rabbit (representing the rabbit she once owned) named ” Little Sweet Miss Bitsy Who’s Its” AKA, “Hooos” (the number of Os varied with her pronunciation), (she gave it away when she could no longer afford or manage to feed it/care for it), she had already long since given away her cat “Mister Wonderful”; those beautiful, multi-colored old vivid lead paint broom handles David mentioned (which she used to have strung together as a divider between rooms when she had a larger apartment) and the cheap plastic flowers she scattered around her body before taking her life. I could go on and on.
As an artist, she was fixated on color and one of the most colorful personalities I am ever likely to meet. She was the queen of the trash pickers. Then there was her astounding artwork, willed to another loyal friend from long before I met her. And most importantly, there is the intangible; the love, the wit, the friendship, humor and affection that her friends will most remember her for. She was ten times funnier than any other Sedaris, since her humor stemmed partly from living a darker, harder life on the razor’s edge. Her passing and the circumstances surrounding it have been unbearably upsetting to her many friends and personally, I will mourn her until my dying day.
Not only could Tiffany been saved, she could have blossomed. While her friends had done all they could,at least half of her mental health issues stemmed from (or were exaggerated by) her poverty and unstable housing situations, but also from David’s occasional mockery of her in his writings.
Her father had the wealth and should have had the wisdom of age to see that she was in dire need of more financial support
David Sedaris made a fortune writing about the foibles and idiosyncrasies of his family, which America and the world has latched onto, since most families are somewhat dysfunctional. As this holiday season and time of reunions approaches, let this be a warning to others: not every black sheep is a lost sheep. Some might come back into the fold with just a little more kind attention or modest financial assistance.
In an interview on Dutch TV, given a month after Tiffany’s suicide, David was asked, “What if you could ask her on question?” He replied, “Can I have the money back that I loaned you?” He laughed. “She borrowed all this money from me. She said “I will pay you back in my lifetime”. I can’t believe I fell for that”. David should consider the payment for his article about Tiffany’s suicide to be a debt paid in full. David’s detachment and insensitivity is insulting and offensive to all who loved Tiffany, likely including his own family. Maybe David could have given Tiffany some more of the money he made off of stories about her. He repeatedly heard she was living a hardscrabble life.
David spent a good 10-20 percent of the article talking about how to name the posh beach house he bought on a whim, three weeks after his youngest sister died, destitute, from a brutally violent suicide in her ramshackle hovel on the ” hard side of Somerville, Massachusetts.” I have a good suggestion as to how to name the new beachfront vacation home, the one with the nice view from David’s bedroom, one of a few houses David owns. Perhaps this one should be named The House of Shame.

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Matt C. Hoffman:
Inculcated – thank you for putting up this new  information. Since I don't read nor have I read any of David Sedaris's books, this is very helpful in assisting me in seeing things in very different light. These are not the kind of books that I generally would read for pleasure and fun. I think of them as sorta like a little to fru- fru for my tastes. Therefore I am not familiar with his books. I am however aware that he is a well read author, and is considered the darling of the NPR. 

I read the New Yorker magazine article, that was posted where he wrote of Tiffany his sister, of her suicide. I also commented as it being sad and beautiful because of the way  Mr. Sedaris  appeared to use his palette and odd  command of the English language, I felt that he missed her. Grief can be portrayed in a myriad of ways.

I knew nothing of the fact that he has made his money writing about the foils and foibles of his family. I didn't realize to the full extent that he was making his money off of Tiffany's pain and misfortune. While not assisting her in any real meaningful fashion since he has become rather wealthy writing about his families dis-functionality as the Sedaris's  navigated their own universes.

I am now of an understanding that Mr. Sedaris was in this article trying to push the guilt of his sisters suicide off as it was because she was all involved in nefarious things like drugs.  Or that she chose a lifestyle that was something he could not understand and therefore it was okay to condescend.  He was sane and Tiffany, after all, and untruthfully, he tells any unsuspecting reader, she only had two boxes of personal effects from fifty years of life,  a life as he writes " contained in two boxes".

His statement about her,  I now realize unequivocally lacking in any sense of compassionate feeling, that she “never could stop talking about Elan” relates to me just how much of a calloused individual this writer appears, for writing about a family member that has made for him a nice sustainable sustenance as a writer of the so called un-regular American family.

The loving brother as the unwitting witness to the sadness of his sister's death that in reality is contradicted  by the stark blinding evidence-  had  helped perpetuate her sadness and thus exacerbated the probable finality of that final option that Tiffany, sadly chose to exercise. As a human being this man has what some would say a lot of damn gall. The examining of, of the evidence presented, leads me to now believe,  is the truth.

So instead of editing my original comment, I would like to say that as one gets the usual cuts and scrapes from climbing the tree of knowledge. I would like to re express my sentiment concerning David Sedaris's thoughts on his sisters untimely death, by this new comment.  A sane man is entitled to change his opinion when led to a different conclusion than originally first believed because there certainly is more to the story than just his article for the New Yorker magazine.

No longer  do I find it beautiful and insightful . Merely a poor attempt by a man who seems to try to  absolve a perceived guilt. Sedaris had the means and ways to assist, with out consequence to his account, and he chose not, instead he chose to laugh at Tiffany. The blame the victim, and worse a victim that cannot respond in defense, ever again. A person thoroughly used as a means to bring fame and fortune to him as a writer, despite her objections/pleas of not being the subject matter,  it is disgusting and cruel. 

It is very telling, when one knows the facts, that can also be found in his books as expressed by the many who find his stories about Tiffany unsettling actually  maligning a soul made to look so far with in with no net to catch below.     

I  do however still find that it shows just how fragile children/ human beings were left after having experienced a place that should never have been allowed ever to exist, Elan.  Yet  a place that used criminal sadistic child abuse per a practical treatment method as insane as that is, that is what Elan was.

I am glad I have not given this man any money for his books, and Inculcated I don't think I am ever going to begin. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to change/clarify my opinion on the matter of his article and providing the information to do this honestly.



Yeah, Matt with the exception of *Squirrel meets Chipmunk* you’ll not be missing much.  His stuff used to be better, but the later writings have detoured into frippery of essays attempting to come off as an eccentric, but ultimately just seem try hard in comparison to the former. One article was just some self-indulgent meandering about his tendency to clean-up trash on his long walks with the premise that it somehow made his doings seem oh so strange to the locals, but really it just read like a fit-bit promo.

However, it is only thanks to him that we have an echo of how impacted Tiffany was by her time in Èlan and I find it interesting that in an article which fails yet strove for some essence of a public eulogy, that topic which he eschewed with disdain in her life, still came to the fore enough to merit mention by him. I’ll also say from experience that siblings often experience hardships of their households with (and by acquiring) different defenses. Both he and Amy Sedaris have spoken candidly about the abusive hierarchy in the household among the sibs and of their mother’s drinking and of the coldness of their father. I see it as they were all injured and Tiffany’s coping skills were both less developed and quite likely rankling to David.  Raised in a family with parents described as theirs, it’s not difficult to see how the rule would be to shut up and move on from insults and injuries, but she either couldn’t or wouldn’t. She is also described by more than just David as one who was not easy to know. I say again from experience that loving a sibling and understanding every bit how they got the way they are doesn’t make being with who they’ve become any easier. I had to withdraw, but then again I don’t write essays with mawkish characterizations which exploit the relationship either, so it’s complicated. As of now, David Sedaris has the opportunity to become educated about Èlan and to use his vantage point to speak on behalf of his sister and others, but I won’t hold my breath. In his relatively self-serving defense of the memoir interview with Blake Bailey (another author from a successful family who lost a sibling to suicide and whose writing has crafted rather an ugly epitaph of his mentally ill drug addicted older brother) Sedaris again mentions Èlan.

--- Quote ---[…]There never seemed to be an innocent period with her, a period of dating or having a crush. She was sent away to a kind of reform school, a place called Élan [in Maine], when she was 14. Maybe she was innocent there and because we weren't allowed to visit we missed it. It's like she went in as a child and came out a hardened vamp.
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--- Quote ---Q:Do you think the Élan thing—I see it was a pretty rough place—do you think that was the most valid aspect of whatever overblown grievance Tiffany had against the family?A:I can't remember a single conversation where she didn't talk about that place, I mean, ten, 20, 30 years after she left it.
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--- Quote ---Q: Now that Tiffany is dead, or even if she weren't, do you think about writing a memoir—I mean a book-length thing rather than individual pieces? Is that something that tempts you at all? A: I would love to find out who she was. But I don't have your skill, the skill to go out and talk to her friends, to hunt down people she went to Élan with and construct a concise portrait of her. We all wonder, my family and I. We talk about it all the time. We'd like to know how she survived. For close to 20 years
--- End quote ---

Very brief video of Tiffany just laughing and chatting Her wit and humor shine here


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