- 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).