I’ve read at least 4 other works by David Sedaris, so I figured I would have the same reaction to this one. Even if I didn’t like the stories, at least the title was entertaining—and it was only $5 at Barnes and Noble!
My favorite stories of his usually involve his family. My favorite story out of this book was him telling about his colonoscopy experience. His father kept begging him to get one after he did—when Sedaris was only in his early 20’s—but Sedaris refused of course. It wasn’t until his sister got one that he decided he might try it. She described it as being the best thing she ever did and it was like being on a drug high essentially. The best part is when he gets done with the procedure and is moved to the “farting room.” I’ll leave that one to the imagination.
Some other topics covered are politics, visiting Asia, going to the dentist, losing his passport and visas, and a few fictional essays where he writes in first person POV. It’s been a few weeks since I finished the book, and I have the hardest time remembering things I’ve read if I don’t write anything down.
I admit this wasn’t my favorite of his works (“Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim”) but it wasn’t his worst either. I thought this one was quite a bit more political than the others. To be fair, it was published in 2013, the year Obama was reelected. Although I don’t agree with Sedaris religiously or politically, he writes in a way that is borderline offensive but comes off entertaining and hilarious. I wish I had as much funny material to write about as he does.
I give this book 3.5/5
When You Are Engulfed in Flames is a series of essays written by David Sedaris. I’ve read many of his books, and all of them have me laughing out loud at some point or another. Sedaris has a way of taking personal events that have been embarrassing to him and making us feel like they are not so bad and in turn, hilarious.
These essays are from a wide range of subjects in Sedaris’ life. One essay covers his experience in Normandy with a convicted sex-offender that he tried to befriend; another, his unabashed way of handling a rude lady sitting next to him on a plane who wanted him to move so she could sit with her husband. His last and longest essay consists of his experience in Japan, where he and his partner Hugh moved so Sedaris could quit smoking. This essay had the most conviction. He tells of his early encounters with pot and later, his addiction, and resolve to quit smoking altogether.
If you want a quick read (because honestly, I couldn’t put it down) and a good laugh, pick up this or ANY of David Sedaris’ works and you will be in for a treat.