Tuesday, June 8, 2010

But enough about me

People who write about themselves in public fall into a few broad categories:
  • You've got your legendary diarists who left important works behind (Samuel Pepys, Anne Frank).
  • Then you've got your more conventional narrators who recount interesting careers or family lives (Brendan Gill, Tad Friend).
  • For some writers who take center stage, the subject is a mere vehicle for the style (Bill Bryson, David Foster Wallace).
  • Further down the ladder are your celebrity attention whores (Tori Spelling, Burt Reynolds, a thousand others) and your more obscure egomaniacs (ahem).
  • Then there are the tell-all types whose use their laptops as psychiatrist's couches, unburdening themselves with painfully honest true confessionals (Candace Bushnell, Armistead Maupin).

The undisputed rock star of the final category is David Sedaris, the literary alchemist whose trademark blend of Ira Glass and Larry David continues to produce two useful by-products: adulation and money.

It's a rare memoirist who can draw any kind of live audience, much less sell out the Chicago Theatre, but Sedaris is that guy. His wryly amusing, occasionally cringeworthy narratives have built a slavish following that can't get enough of him.

Me, I don't read him much -- nothing against him, but his occasional New Yorker essay is enough to satisfy my curiosity -- but certainly respect his triumphant success.

Sedaris' latest coup is a weeklong gig reading from his new book at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, which started tonight.  

My Flavorpill preview is here (scroll down).


Bob Kerfuffle said...

But, which category do you claim? :>)

Ben said...

My "ahem" was intended to answer that question, but on further reflection, I think I'll take "legendary diarist."

Elaine said...

I require an additional category...although, in truth, I cannot claim to be a diarist any way. I am not, for example, about to leave a diary entry about the (thrillingly welcome) visit from both offspring (29 and 26 year-old daughter and son plus the son's Significant Other,) all of whom convened for my birthday. We had a lot of delightful reminiscing, funny patter, swimming, eating, and just plain hanging out, but if I write about it and they find out--BAM. So I'm just a blogger who edits her life. Kindly devise additional designation....

Ben said...

A blogger who edits his/her life is the only kind I'm interested in being.

I would rather undershare than overshare. If the most interesting 40% of my life doesn't hit the blog, so be it.