Themes and Variations: An Essay

For this Amazon-exclusive essay, Sedaris discusses a topic dear to his heart: his fondness for chatting with fans at book signings. Recalling an author who virtually ignored him while signing his paperback at a Chicago bookstore in the 1980s, he swore to always show interest in his future readers: “I would see them until they wilted.”

Sedaris usually starts the conversation, but recalls a woman in Baton Rouge who greeted him with “You got me to put my bra back on.” This starts a conversation he continues throughout that book tour, where women all over America and the United Kingdom tell him how and where they remove their bras after work. He’s most impressed by the young woman in Edinburgh who confesses she takes hers off on the bus.

Another tour’s theme was jokes, which began when one of his drivers told him a bad one about nails (the hammering kind). He catalogued all the jokes in his computer, noting how many overlapped between “sex” and “misogynist.” The two funniest include one about a snail selling magazine subscriptions and a more involved tale of three men who marry Spanish, Thai, and American women.

On his latest tour, the theme was items men insert into themselves and then turn up in the ER. Several readers showed up at signings with x-rays showing the most bizarre penetrations, such as a Bose speaker, for which the woman showing him the latter whispered “And it was still connected to Bluetooth.”

Those who have met Sedaris on tour can attest to his offbeat conversations, which are side-splittingly funny. He’s determined that fans who’ve stood tired and hungry in the rain for two and a half hours will come away from meeting him with more than just a scribbled signature.

Book Review Gal had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Sedaris at Wolf Trap during his tour for Theft By Finding

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