Monday, July 28, 2008

When You Are Engulfed in Flames

When You Are Engulfed in Flames is the sixth book by David Sedaris. This book is a collection of essays on the comedic aspects of his life; in other words, it is typical Sedaris! Whether he is talking on NPR radio or writing an episode of The American Life, Mr. Sedaris turns every day life into humor.

"The Understudy" is a comical look at life with a adult babysitter, who happens to be crazy. From the woman's nasty slip to her "monkey fingered" back scratcher, I was howling with laughter by the time the parent's returned from a week-long vacation.

"Road Trips" is the hilarious story of being picked up by a driver who wants a blow job as payment. This sentence speaks for itself!!

"April in Paris" describes how he began catching flies to feed to April, his favorite spider. It epitomizes his wacky, wonderful vision.
"Most people would have found it grotesque, but when you're in love nothing is so horrible that it can't be thought of as cute. It slayed me that she had eight eyes."

"That's Amore" is an account of living next to a foul-mouthed elderly woman in New York who, when Sedaris meets her, tells him,
"mess with me, and I'll stick my foot so far up your ass I'll lose my shoe".

In "Solution to Saturday's Puzzle", Sedaris argues with a bitchy woman he is sitting next to on a plane and then sneezes while she is asleep, sending a throat lozenge shooting into her lap. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to start spitting things!

Mr. Sedaris writes best about acute embarrassment and seems to enjoy humiliating himself. He describes the "Stadium Pal", an external catheter that enables sports spectators and truck drivers to urinate into a tube and then collect the urine in a bag. He tries it, but admits that peeing while checking into a hotel or discussing his drinks order with a flight attendant isn't easy.

In the essay "What I Learned", he is reflective and biting as he looks back and realizes
"... what we, in our certainty, could not have fathomed - is that stuff comes up. Weird doors open. People fall into things. Maybe the engineering whiz will wind up brewing cider, not because he has to, but because he finds it challenging. Who knows? Maybe the athlete will bring peace to all nations, or the class moron will go on to become president of the United States -- though that's more likely to happen at Harvard or Yale, schools that will pretty much let in anybody."

If you love to laugh and enjoy reading hilarious essays, don't miss David Sedaris' When You Are Engulfed in Flames - it is a true treasure!


Nikki in Niagara said...

I've read a lot of reviews of this book but never really got a grasp on what it was about since I've never heard of the author. (probably 'cause I'm Canadian). But you've writtten a wonderful review and it sounds like something I would really enjoy. Thanks!

Stephanie said...

I love David and Amy Sedaris!! They are just so funny. I am definitely going to have to read this one someday!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy David Sedaris in small doses...sometimes I start to feel like its all too much "look at me! Look how clever I am!" But he is definitely a master at his craft, and good writing is always fun to read.

great review!