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by David Sedaris

"David Sedaris's ability to transform the mortification of everyday life into wildly entertaining art," (The Christian Science Monitor) is elevated to wilder and more entertaining heights than ever in this remarkable new book. Trying to make coffee when the water is shut off, David considers using the water in a vase of flowers and his chain of associations takes him from the French countryside to a hilariously uncomfortable memory of buying drugs in a mobile home in rural North Carolina. In essay after essay, Sedaris proceeds from bizarre conundrums of daily life-having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a fellow passenger on a plane or armoring the windows with LP covers to protect the house from neurotic songbirds-to the most deeply resonant human truths. Culminating in a brilliant account of his venture to Tokyo in order to quit smoking, David Sedaris's sixth essay collection is a new masterpiece of comic writing from "a writer worth treasuring" (Seattle Times). Praise for When You Are Engulfed in Flames:"Older, wiser, smarter and meaner, Sedaris...defies the odds once again by delivering an intelligent take on the banalities of an absurd life." --Kirkus ReviewsThis latest collection proves that not only does Sedaris still have it, but he's also getting better....Sedaris's best stuff will still--after all this time--move, surprise, and entertain." --BooklistTable of Contents:It's CatchingKeeping UpThe UnderstudyThis Old HouseBuddy, Can You Spare a Tie?Road TripsWhat I LearnedThat's AmoreThe Monster MashIn the Waiting RoomSolutions to Saturday's PuzzleAdult Figures Charging Toward a Concrete ToadstoolMemento MoriAll the Beauty You Will Ever NeedTown and CountryAerialThe Man in the HutOf Mice and MenApril in ParisCrybabyOld FaithfulThe Smoking Section
Download When You Are Engulfed in Flames epub
ISBN: 0316024597
ISBN13: 978-0316024594
Category: Humor
Subcategory: Humor
Author: David Sedaris
Language: English
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Large Print edition (June 3, 2008)
Pages: 512 pages
ePUB size: 1249 kb
FB2 size: 1410 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 790
Other Formats: docx doc txt azw

The stories in this book have all been previously published, so if you're a fan of the author, they won't be new to you. I don't usually seek out "humor" books, since many of them seem to take the business of being funny way too seriously. So I've been seeing references to Sedaris for years, but never read any of his stuff. My loss. If these stories are typical, he's both funny and thoughtful, which is a nice combination.

The opening story "SantaLand Diaries" is the story that put this author on the map when it was read on NPR. It's the sort of "autobiographical fiction" (i.e. based on his life, but exaggerated for comic effect) that Sedaris does so beautifully. It's a classic.

Sedaris admits to some exaggeration, so maybe writing stories about holidays is a natural fit for his talents. Americans take their celebrations very seriously indeed, with the result that observing behavior during holidays is even more entertaining than observing behavior the rest of the time. Holidays bring out the crazy in all of us. Ask any cop or ER nurse or Mall Santa. Even normal people go whack-o.

I loved the Christmas letters that spiral out of control. I howled at the critiques of children's holiday productions. Naturally, your own offspring (or grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc) are charming, talented, and delightful, but who the hell thought we'd want to watch those other boring brats?

But my favorites were "Dinah the Christmas Whore" and "Let It Snow" because of the glimpses into the strange family that shaped this author's twisted outlook on life. His family may have been "Southern by the Grace of Greyhound" but they fit right in. Anyone who grew up in a dysfunctional family will recognize the characters and situations. Those of you who grew up in a normal family don't know what you missed.

I think most of these stories are ones I would enjoy re-reading and the collection is a great introduction to this author's writing. After all, this is a man who's been called "one of the funniest writers alive." By The Economist. And if people who write about the economy don't know great humor when they see, I can't imagine who does.
deadly claw
As someone who gets depressed this time of year, and I know I'm not alone in this - this is my antidepressant! How can I be sad at all the signs of Christmas while I'm laughing my butt off with David Sedaris as an elf with me? Best to listen to it read by Sedaris himself, (he reads his work SO well!) but I have heard it so many times that when I read it I can almost hear him speaking in my head. I used to listen to it on the car between Thanksgiving and New Year's, and it really helped. Buy it for the people you know who get sad or just don't like this time of year!!! I do have a complaint with Amazon though - my copy, shipped along with another book, arrived bent! I'll try weighing it down with a stack of heavy books to weigh it down and hopefully straighten it out, but they should have shipped it differently - maybe between 2 sheets of heavy cardboard or something. But I highly recommend the book - one of the funniest I've ever read!!!!
I like David Sedaris. His off-beat humor matches up with what I think is funny. I don't like it so much when he ventures into fiction, although I have to admit his Six to Eight Black Men and The Cow and the Turkey were spot on. The Monster Mash just didn't click with me, but the SantaLand Diaries was worth the price of the book.

Sedaris is meant to be heard, and I can hear his voice reading these short stories as I read them. His unique speaking voice and writing voice are unmistakable. Nobody sound just like David Sedaris. Funny and poignant, both voices combine into a reading experience like none other.
net rider
I don't share much of a background with David Sedaris, I'm not from a "middle class" family, I have no college education (IVY LEAGUE even, c'mon), no one in my family has had anything to do with the arts, I'm an only freakin' child, I'm born bred and have always lived in the North West, I don't even have a passport let alone the means to live in any country I please... The list could continue and for some readers things like this make Sedaris' writing out of reach, even insulting.

The thing is though we seem to have absolutely nothing in common we do have one thing, tiny as it may be, we the commanality of being human and living during this particular era. That is what connects me to him and his writing, his humble humanity. He knows he isn't a beauty queen, he consistently blunders through life making mistakes, playing the fool even and yet he has this amazing ability to WRITE about it, to share it with thw world and make fun of himself OUT LOUD to millions of readers. I love him for that, I love him for the fact academia hasn't sapped the humanity out of him and made him feel blunder proof or at least made him a blunder snob, hiding behind eight letter words that no one knows the true meaning of, ducking behind an Ivy league education.

I picked this particular book up because my best friend is in the hospital, has been, will be, for a while. I have learned that he CANNOT handle being alone so I sit there, hour upon hour and try to read him to sleep. Sedaris' short stories and essays are perfect hospital food right? The problem is reading them aloud for the first time is hard because he makes laugh out loud (and not many do)so in the quiet hospital corridors one room is bellowing with laughter, from me, from my sick friend who really shouldn't be laughing right now, it hurts him, but he won't let me stop. A nurse cruises in inevitably when I am reading something that out of context seems dirty, it becomes even funnier.

My context of reading this particular Sedaris book aside it is really a very funny, charming piece of literature that connects with the reader on many levels. The parts that others seem to be offended or put off by, I say read them with zeal, be happy that someone out there is making enough money off being a boob, off proudly being a boob to travel to Japan and France and across the U.S. and is taking the time (for money maybe but whatever) to share his experiences as a pretty much average Joe with us. Be happy to read from someone who relishes in the oddities, who isn't always tring to make you sympathetic and tearful. It really is a rare quality. You will find that most contemporary memoir(ish) literature relies on human empathy and sad, sad, sad, SAD parts of life. It's nice to take a break and read from someone who can tell you abot his mother dying of lung cancer in one paragraph and have you giggling in the next.Comedy or Tragedy, life is what you make of it. Trust me I have my own fair share of the comedically tragic, but when my friends can laugh at the crazy things I say and do when I am hallucinating because Lupus is attacking my brain I am way better than when they are crying over it.

David Sedaris has the ability to make you laugh over things that put another way might make you cry. AND he has inspired me to REALLY quit smoking, I am done with cigarettes.