Read When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris Online


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 this remarkable new volume, Sedaris proceeds from bizarre conundrums of daily life--having a lozenge fallTrying 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 this remarkable new volume, 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 collection is a new masterpiece of comic writing from "a writer worth treasuring" (Seattle Times)....

Title : When You Are Engulfed in Flames
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781600241833
Format Type : Audiobook
Number of Pages : 0 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

When You Are Engulfed in Flames Reviews

  • Lyn
    2019-04-15 10:48

    In our present culture, we sometimes write "LOL" meaning laugh out loud to recognize something is funny, but this is usually just a smile or an acknowledgment of a humorous situation. I can sincerely type LOL, or even ROFL, or LSHIS (laughed so hard I snorted). This is funny. Sedaris has a rare gift of relating a hilarious story or by simply telling a commonplace occurrence in a funny way. So why just three stars? In between the laughs is the not altogether likable persona of Sedaris. He may impart self deprecating humor, or maybe he is personifying a satire on our culture, or both, but many times in the narrative, organized into short essays or vignettes, I had to admit that I did not like my narrator. Other times, to be fair, he repented or showed a generous, open mindedness; but I could not shake the image of an unapologetically selfish person who, sadly, may reflect modern Western culture all too well. That said, really funny book.

  • Dusty Myers
    2019-04-02 11:35

    Here's my take on Sedaris, or maybe my take on Sedaris before I listened to this book:Naked is easily his best work because it's his most thorough, his most unencumbered by his own fame. If we were to compare his oeuvre to MTV's The Real World, Naked is the original New York season (despite not being Sedaris's first book). In New York, the cast members were people already living in the city (with the Alabama exception) and trying to make a living; the whole "be on TV" part of it was something they dealt with in the name of free housing. Now, of course, teens run at the chance to go live in some other city just to "have their lives taped," just for the fame it might bring, and what they actually do on the show is dull as a result. Naked is the masterpiece because the essays therein are longer and more satisfying; the whole thing is memoir in its finest form of sifting through the past to let someone understand how life (or maybe just a life) gets lived.Then he got wildly famous and was able to publish any old essay in any old magazine. This, I recognize, is a factor of his talent both as a writer and a humorist, not a factor of his name. Still, even as "far back" asMe Talk Pretty One Day, I left much of the essays with a sense of incompletion. "Picka Pocketoni"? Why wasn't this narrator doing anything? It wasn't enough just to stand there and report, I felt.A lot of WYAEiF is about how wealthy and glamorous Sedaris's life is, and how wealthy he was growing up, which is something I'd never really sensed before. He talks about the cork-lined dining room at his parents' house with the (at the time) contemporary Danish modern furniture. He talks about the $20K he spent to quit smoking by moving to Tokyo for three months. He mentions an $8K first-class ticket he bought. He mentions a lot of airplane rides; I think at least three of the essays have their roots in something that happened to D.S. while flying across the Atlantic. This smacks to me of a writer who's run out of things to write about; and yet there are essays about old neighbors ("That's Amore", one of the collection's best), so it seems Sedaris still has enough memories to last a few more books.I heard that in some interview somewhere, Sedaris confessed that he was getting to the point in his life where he'd act in a scene explicitly for the purposes of creating something to write about. Maybe Sedaris has a history of this (I can't imagine he just wanted to up and go to a nudist colony on his own; clearly, he saw great material in the exercise) but something about the heft of those earlier essays ("Santaland Diaries", too) makes them seem more honest. In the interview, Sedaris was talking specifically about the decision to cough so hard on a plane that his throat lozenge would be expelled from his mouth. He thought, Let's see what happens, and coughed. This action begins one of the essays in this book, and it's never revealed as constructed.I'm not aligning myself with that camp of Memoir Exposers For The Truth. My complaint isn't that Sedaris makes things up. It's that at one time, behind the essays, was this guy David Sedaris, or as close to the guy as we could get, and now it seems that behind all these essays lies "The Writer David Sedaris". I'm not making myself clear.(Which, incidentally, is one thing I can't fault Sedaris for. His timing in writing is impeccable and his descriptions apt and lovely in places. Oh and funny. The book in just incredibly, unendingly funny. In short: get the audiobook.)

  • Majenta
    2019-04-08 07:38

    4 1/2 stars."The houses looked like something a child might draw, a row of shaky squares with triangles on top. Add a door, add two windows. Think of putting a tree in the front yard, and then decide against it because branches aren't worth the trouble." (Page 27)"...I referred to him as Sir Lance-a-Lot. 'Once is not a lot,' he said. This was true, but Sir Lance Occasionally lacks a certain ring." (Page 238)Thanks for reading!

  • James
    2019-03-31 09:55

    Eh.That’s my review: eh.With maybe a shoulder shrug.Someone better read than I recently remarked something to the effect of, “Once you’ve read one David Sedaris book, haven’t you read them all?”Yes.And Kurt Vonnegut.And several others. But that’s neither here nor there.Sedaris’s recent book makes such a dismissive comment truer than ever. For readers familiar with Holidays on Ice, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and Me Talk Pretty One Day, there is little Funny and Original to enjoy from When You Are Engulfed in Flames. And especially for readers of The New Yorker like myself, where most of the essays in this publication were initially published, there is a lot to be desired.A few highlights include an explanation for why Sedaris does not believe in God: “Because I have hair on my back, and a lot of other people, people who kill and rob and make life miserable, don’t. A real God wouldn’t let that happen.” And his prediction that, “It’s safe to assume that by 2025, guns will be sold in vending machines, but you won’t be able to smoke anywhere in America.” With the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on D.C’s gun ban, Sedaris’s prescience is foreboding.But what I found most interesting about When You Are Engulfed in Flames was the About the Author: “David Sedaris’s half-dozen books have been translated into twenty-five languages, including Estonian, Greek, and Bahasa. His essays appear frequently in The New Yorker and are heard on Public Radio International’s This American Life.”It was the first sentence that intrigued me. There’s a good David Sedaris essay to be had from that line. Did David Sedaris himself write it? If not, but the editor did, why the importance on Estonian, Greek, and Bahasa and not the other 22 languages? Does translation into these three languages indicate a literary achievement of some sort? Is it a big deal for Estonians, Greeks, and Indonesians to be reading David Sedaris? While Microsoft Word’s spell check wants Bahasa to be Bahamas, Bahaman, Batas, Balas, or Banana, Bahasa is in fact spelled correctly. It is the native language of Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, and therefore one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. So for David Sedaris to be available in this language is no small feat. Why then Estonian and Greek? And what are the other 22 neglected languages? Why are they less special?

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    2019-04-06 08:35

    Find all of my reviews at: funniest collection by David Sedaris that I’ve read so far. There just aren’t words to express how happy these books make me. Sedaris is by far my favorite humorist/essayist/columnist/whatever-ist you want to call him. His writing can turn my frown upside down and always leaves me laughing like a lunatic. My infatuation actually began with another Sedaris – David’s sister Amy. Anyone who looks like this:But prefers to get paid for looking something like this:Is someone that I want to hang out with. When I discovered her brother, I found there was enough love in my heart for multiple Sedaris-es. Sadly, as much as I love dear David, it will most likely always be from afar. I have a huge phobia that if I meet a famous person I adore, they will end up being an asshat. I find myself each year sitting at the computer, hand hovering over the PayPal button, but always failing to purchase a ticket to one of his book readings/signings. Not only am I fearful David will be a jerk, but that he will also discover I’m a huge nutter. Ours would be quite the ill-fated meet/cute with me screaming things like "why won't you love me????" while he runs away responding something along the lines of "because I'm gay, you crazy bitch, which you should be well aware of since you've been my borderline stalker for years now!" In addition, I would be forced to stand in line with a bunch of strangers mouthbreathing their germy breath on me – or even worse, having the gall to engage in small talk. Just UGH! My David and I may never meet, but I will continue to stalk love him and shout my praise of his hilarious books from the rooftops.Sidenote: This was my final selection for the Kansas City Public Library's Winter Reading Challenge. "Stop Me If You've Read This One" was the theme this year and encouraged patrons to read books that might make them laugh. By completing my 5 books, I got a lovely little coffee mug that Mitchell promptly declared as his.For those curious of my funny book choices for this challenge, they are as follows:Skinny Dip by Carl HiassenIn Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks by Adam CarollaMan Up by Ross MathewsWhen You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris (duh)andAmerican Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. I figure I'm probably on some Federal watch list anyway, so why not mix it up a bit and let them think there might really be something to be scared of ; )

  • Jason Koivu
    2019-04-06 10:36

    When You Are Engulfed in Flames continues David Sedaris' cataloguing of the awkward moments of his life in humorous, memoir-like essays. Herein are more of his usual daily-life topics: getting to know the neighbors (I.E. the local child molester), his fascination with creepy shit, the annoying people that enter his life, relationship issues (poor Hugh comes in for it in this one!), his pet spider and a mish-mash of other stuff.Sedaris is very open about his personal issues. He has some OCDs and while it's surely hell to live through, he kindly plucks out the funny bits for our amusement. The writing is getting a little bit too meta at this point for me. His daily life over the last few years, due to his own fame and fortune, has become less relatable for us commoners. Thus his material that finds him flying about the world, living in Paris and Tokyo, etc., while still humorous, does not hit the same funnybone as his past works. The regional idiosyncrasies of the travel-related pieces are good for a few laughs, but they just don't elicit the same home-grown guffaws that sprouted naturally from the stories of his middle class American family's upbringing of him and his many siblings. Still though, I've enjoyed this a couple times and would again. Rating: 3.5Recommended: For people that prefer observational humor and would rather steer clear of his highly personal anecdotes. (Trust me, they get even more personal than this!)

  • RandomAnthony
    2019-03-29 03:35

    You know, Montambo is right, this is Sedaris' best book. While earlier in his career the author seemed to go for easy laughs (Look at my brother! What an ass!) or convenient self-loathing something seems to have clicked this time around that transforms the work from magazine article quality to literature. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Sedaris sounds like a real writer in this book; the essays flow unforced and genuine insight accompanies the punch lines. Sedaris doesn't seem to be writing for performance here as much as writing for the page; that's a welcome change, in my eyes. I enjoyed When You Are Engulfed in Flames and heck, I'd read it again.

  • Brian
    2019-04-16 05:01

    After reading Sedaris' previous collection, I began to suspect that he had mined all of the material he could from his family and the earlier hard times he experienced. It appeared he was now left with the task of finding hilarity and poignancy in the life of a rich, celebrated author. "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" confirms that his days of dressing as an elf, picking apples, and hitch-hiking cross country with an incomplete quadriplegic are long gone. In their place we are left with essays about catching flies, cantankerous car service drivers, and foul-mouthed airline passengers (two essays on this topic in fact). This would be a real problem if they weren't entertaining (most are), but they lack the quality of desperation that so fueled his earlier work. Add to that the author's note at the beginning of the book: "The events described in these stories are realish. Certain characters have fictitious names and identifying characteristics," along with a recent article from The New Republic revealing him as a serial exaggerator, and I'm left with the impression that his best work is behind him. I hope he proves me wrong.

  • Matthew
    2019-03-30 09:53

    3.5 or maybe 4 - rounding up because I was entertained. Not my favorite Sedaris. This one seemed to be darker and more serious than the others of his I have read (includes some artsy filler stories). There were some of the usual amusing tales - most of which in this book took place in France or on an airplane. The last 1/3 of the book (or so) was a cross between what it is like to live in Japan and being a smoker from start to finish. I don't think I would recommend that someone start here if they want to try Sedaris, but if you have read and enjoyed him before, this will be a good one to read.

  • V. Briceland
    2019-04-21 07:41

    Dear Mr. Sedaris,First off, I understand that you live in France. With your boyfriend. In France. Where they speak French, because it's France. Thank you for reminding me you live in France, with your boyfriend, where they speak French, with funny French accents, and funny funny French words, with their French ways, every ten to twelve pages. Else I might have forgotten you live in . . . wait, where was it again?No, seriously, I'm glad you have an army of NPR-head fans to squirm with delight at your every little bon mot. it must be pretty gratifying. As a former fan, however, I'm a little distressed at the direction you've been moving over the last several years, especially in this volume.I understand that your legions of fans love it when you collect eccentrics like some eBay addicts collect Precious Moments figurines. It seems to me, however, that even as you celebrate the grotesque in every essay, you seem less in touch with the real, the good, and the positive. If it doesn't belong in a freak show, the material seemingly doesn't belong in your book. For example, it seems as if you have a (very patient) boyfriend who cares for you, but you show precious little evidence of returning the affection as in your essays you toss aside the flowers he buys you, mock his musical enthusiasms, and generally diminish his role in your life. You recoil with horror when a friendly cabbie offers to help you find companionship in a strange city, but you lovingly recall for several long pages the memory of looking at photos with your sister of a woman copulating with a horse. Oh, I'm all for celebrating oddities. Good for you. The mainstream gets enough attention. The fussy, grandmotherly way in which you gather them to your sides and cultivate them, however, lately borders less on comedy or insightful reporting, and more toward outright pathology. It seems a shame, as I know you're a much more capable writer than your adoring fans want you to be.--A friendP.S. We suffered for too many years with your funny French lessons. Please, please, don't do the same with Japanese.

  • Shannon
    2019-03-30 09:42

    I don't quite get the people who say this isn't as funny as his other books- I thought it was plenty funny. The comment about having a 400 dollar sweater that looked like it had been thrown to a tiger and thus was already ruined and incapable of being further ruined.. that made me laugh. And saying a cracker tasted like penis. And lots of little one-liners. But what's really awesome about his stuff is that it's MORE than just a bunch of one-liners. He really is a very observant, intelligent, hilarious writer. I think.Admittedly a few times he seemed to kind of go.. off track, and there were all these little asides that didn't seem to be related to the main theme, or whatever. So, I guess, some of the essays were a bit less cohesive than usual. But, he can pull it off. I could listen to him ramble about anything.Also I LOVE his descriptions of his relationship with Hugh. It's so awesome that he can complain so much about his partner and yet do so in a way that indicates clearly that he is deeply in love with him. It's adorable.Oh, and speaking of adorable. I listened to the audio-book version of this, too. If you haven't heard Sedaris read his work, you're missing out. He's excellent..Also: Because I'm a spaz for Chip Kidd I have to say this: he designed the cover ISN'T IT AWESOME? I think it's really apt for this book, because, besides several literal references to skeletons and smoking in this book.. I think it captures the overall mood.. there is a lot of reference to death, but it's all relatively lighthearted and humorous.. as is an image of a skeleton smoking a cigarette. Kind of awesomely dark and a bit morbid, I think.

  • Maxwell
    2019-04-09 04:54

    The reasons that this didn't get a 1 star from me are because 1.) I didn't actively dislike anything about it, I just found it boring and 2.) David Sedaris' narration is great. Actually, his narrating is probably one of the only things I did like about this book.As an avid listener of NPR's This American Life, I have, from time to time, heard stories from David Sedaris and found them highly enjoyable. So enjoyable, in fact, that I've been driving to work almost in tears from laughter. What I expected from this collection was that. And that is not what I got. Perhaps it was my own false assumption, but these stories were neither funny, nor memorable. If I hadn't listened to the audiobook on my hour-long commute to and from work this week and instead had chosen to read the stories, I probably would've given up after the first few. But Sedaris' companionship during my drive kept me optimistic, hoping that the next story would be better than the last. In the end though, I didn't really love any of them.I will, however, check out another Sedaris audiobook because 1.) his narration really is great and 2.) I've heard much better things about his other collections.

  • brian tanabe
    2019-04-19 07:56

    When I first saw this in a bookstore I thought to myself, can he do it again? Is there more scrapable hilarity clinging to the walls of his interesting life, fit to amuse and entertain his many fans? Sedaris does in fact do it again and apparently there's an endless well of funny stuffy, a font of hilarity, within this man.This is another great collection, on par with his other works for all the Sedaris fans out there. There is one story in particular (“That's Amore”) -- or rather a character in this story -- I would love to see him write a full length piece on. Helen is too good (or bad) to be true. As with city rats, Sedaris likens her to the “type of creature [he] expected to find living in New York.” When apartment shopping in New York it was Hugh (Sedaris’ partner) who runs into the 70-something year old first, “[nodding] hello and as he turned to leave, she pointed to some bags lying at her feet.“'Carry my groceries upstairs.' She sounded like a man, or, rather, a hit man, her voice coarse and low, like heavy footsteps on gravel.“'Now?' Hugh asked.“She said, 'What? You got something better to do?'”As with his other collections Sedaris has a very matter of fact method for transferring his hilarious life musings to the page. And I love of his use of the word “faggoty.” Two thumbs up for anyone looking for something light and a must-read for Sedaris fans.

  • Ivonne Rovira
    2019-03-23 04:54

    I have adored the hilarious David Sedaris from his very first readings on NPR. And nothing in When You Are Engulfed in Flames makes me adore him less — not even his ultra-competitiveness with children and his cavalier attitude towards cancer. When You Are Engulfed in Flames explores the give-and-take of long-term relationships, some objectionable neighbors, the struggles of quitting smoking or learning a new language, and Japanese society — always in pretty funny ways. While not as hilarious as SantaLand Diaries or Me Talk Pretty One Day, readers — whether longtime Sedaris groupies like me or newbies — won’t go wrong with When You Are Engulfed in Flames, which is still laugh-out-loud funny in parts and pretty humorous otherwise.Lastly, there’s only one way to listen to a David Sedaris book: That’s as audiobook, with Sedaris reading it himself.

  • Imogen
    2019-04-09 08:43

    When I am not reading David Sedaris, I am thinking: David Sedaris, man, there is a popular guy whose books are kind of just always around and not very interesting. But when I *am* reading him, I'm always like, there are five or six absolutely brilliant punchlines in every one of this guy's books, and the other parts are, y'know, enjoyable enough. I think it's a testament to my always forgetting how much I like him that I guess I've read all his stuff, but I absolutely never think of him as an author I like when I'm thinking about authors I like. I definitely appreciate that he's a big homo- there's a point in this book where he says that something he's eating tastes kind of like penis- who absolutely kills the Barnes & Noble circuit. Kind of like Chuck Palahniuk, except more explicit. I also like that one time at the Strand he was reading and he asked, 'who here is totally stoked about the new George Romero zombie movie?' and I was all WOOOOOO and the whole rest of the room was silent, so we had a moment. That was good. Anyway, I don't know if I'd pay twenty-five dollars for this as a new book, but I don't know if I'd pay twenty-five dollars for anything as a new book, so that is the wrong question to ask me.

  • Rae
    2019-03-24 10:46

    Another exceptional work by Mr. Sedaris. Kept me laughing from beginning to end.

  • Alana
    2019-03-31 09:35

    While I certainly won't call this the best David Sedaris collection that you can purchase for yourself, I will say that any David Sedaris is worth reading -- and thus, my star rating. It would probably be more like three and a half if Goodreads did half stars the way LibraryThing does, but ah well.The observation I have for this collection is that with Mr. Sedaris giving up drinking, drugs, and smoking... his stories seem to be a bit more tame. Much more focus on his boyfriend Hugh or stories tinged with a bit of melancholy. The NY Times mentioned the story about his parents' art collection, which is perhaps one of the better crafted stories. My favorite, however, is called "Keeping Up" -- which talks about couples arguing on vacation and features Mr. Sedaris rehearsing his "I'm leaving you" speech to his boyfriend after Hugh's fast walking leaves Sedaris lost and alone in a zoo in Sydney. In general, it's nice to see Hugh making more of an appearance in Sedaris' stories. Sedaris' previous volumes have focused so much on his siblings that when you realize how long he and Hugh have been together, you're a bit surprised that it's taken Sedaris this long to mine his significant other for material. In the past, he's popped up every now and then, but he's a much more substantial figure in this collection. As with Sedaris' other works, though, one can't help but wonder how his friends and relatives deal with having details of their lives published and sold. Unlike his parents and sisters, though, Sedaris consistently paints Hugh in a good light and one can't help but wonder how Sedaris can function without Hugh at times in this collection.In any case, while you might want to wait to purchase a paperback version, this collection does have several good chuckles. I might not have been struggling for breath as I have once or twice in the past ("Six to Eight Black Men" comes to mind), but I still think that anyone who enjoys Sedaris should not miss this most recent offering.

  • Paul
    2019-04-13 07:46

    This collection of humorous essays, a lot of which are extrapolated from Sedaris' diary entries, is mostly absolutely hilarious with the occasional poignant moment here and there.I enjoyed this one a lot more than 'Me Talk Pretty One Day' and I think it's possibly because I read MTPOD on my Kindle and listened to WYAEIF as an audiobook read by the author. Hearing Sedaris deliver his material is a whole different beast from reading it yourself.The only reason I haven't given this 5 stars is because there are a few moments where I found Sedaris' antics more irritating than amusing. For the most part, though, this is a very funny book.

  • Niloo
    2019-03-24 06:42

    برای منی که اینقدر طرفدار دیوید سداریسم اصلا خوب نبود.تو کتابفروشی یهو دیدم دیوید سداریس! اسم کتابی که ندیده‌بودمش ولی ترجمه پیمان خاکسار هم نبود. و چقدر بد ترجمه شده‌بود. برای مثال باید به «تجاریِ ممتاز» به جای بیزینس کلس یا «دهه‌ی هفتاد سالگی» یا«لوله‌ی گل» به جای رول اشاره کنم. و اینکه چقدر نتونسته‌بود اصطلاحات رو درست ترجمه کنه و متن ناخوانا شده‌بود یه جاهایی حتی!فضای خود کتاب هم کمتر دوست‌داشتنی بود برام. این بار بیشتر درباره زندگیش با هیو بوده تا پدر و مادر و خواهراش و نمی‌دونم واقعا همینقدر کمرنگ بوده حضورِ بامزه‌ی هیو تو داستاناش یا چون که پارتنرش بوده سانسور شده از کتاب!(یعنی کمرنگ نبوده ها. همش حضور داشته تو تمام داستانا ولی وقتی مقایسه ش میکنم با اون داستانایی که پدر یا مادرش نقش های اصلی بودن٫ اینجا بیشتر قضایا حول خود دیوید سداریس و کارهاش می گشت.)+ البته بخش اولِ سیگاری‌ها خیلی خوب بود و کلا تو بخش سیگاری‌ها و داستان‌های سفرشون به ژاپن خیلی بامزه بود :دی

  • Erin
    2019-04-18 10:57

    Some people find that after reading one or two of Sedaris's books, he becomes less ha-ha funny. Maybe they get used to his style of humour. Maybe there's a golden order in which to read them (personally, I find chronologically by publishing date works well). Maybe there is a slight advantage to hearing him speak in person. I tend to read him while imagining how he'd say it, and immediately a dry sentence comes to life.I could go on about the maturation I see happening in his work, but I won't. Not for now.What I will say is that in his past work, he seems to be a sort of bystander in many of his stories. Things happen around him. He observes. Takes notes. Then turns them into stories. But rarely is he at the center of the story - the obvious exception being "Me Talk Pretty One Day."This book is different. This is a collection of mostly unrelated stories, and his presence in all of them is more noticeable. More nostalgia, and a dark softness pervades these stories. I really appreciate this quality.Plus, he gets brownie points in my book for using Van Gogh on the cover :)

  • Valerie
    2019-04-21 09:40

    When I first started reading this book, I found myself disappointedly thinking that it was just more of the same from David Sedaris - stories that either make you laugh out loud or make you cringe (or more often both). Don't get me wrong - he's still funny - but I was expecting more from this one... some evolution in style or content. I liked his earlier books because they were more raw, the stories a bit more unexpected. The beginning of this one felt a little recycled, and I was ready to be done reading it.But then about two-thirds of the way through, the stories lost their formulaic feeling, and an unexpected poignancy crept in. I ended up really enjoying the the last few stories, in particular the last, titled The Smoking Section. I think the editors started out with the lightest stories and saved the best for the end. I wish I'd read it backwards.

  • britt_brooke
    2019-04-08 11:37

    “The things I've bought from strangers in the dark would curl your hair.”Continuing my audio David Sedaris rereads. I’m not sure what’s more fantastic, Sedaris reading his dark and often hilarious stories, or this van Gogh on the cover.

  • Shelly
    2019-04-12 05:51

    I think the honeymoon is over. Or, maybe I'm just too hard to please. Wait, I don't think those are mutually exclusive. In any event, I was let down. This collection of stories/anecdotes seemed more blog-worthy than book-worthy to me. It gave me the sense that he was under pressure to put another book out. To say something. So he follows the formula that's worked for him so well only this time the content's not nearly as entertaining, or noteworthy. One chapter is about a boil he had that his partner, Hugh, ended up popping for him. While I like gross, there's not much else to it. Speaking of Hugh, there was way too much of him. He's not nearly as entertaining or interesting as any of David's family members, particularly Amy. The book's ending chapters take place in Tokyo. Which I found refreshing, it's a much needed change of scenery. And there are some really funny scenes that take place here. But for the most part this section drags. It's like a SNL skit that starts off funny and you're hoping will just go ahead and end on a good joke but instead it just keeps going--unable to figure out how to wrap it up. I hate that I was disappointed. I really do love David Sedaris. This book just under-whelmed me. I will forever enjoy his p.o.v., and sense of humor-- but I think all his good stories have been chronicled so far.

  • Selena
    2019-04-19 10:50

    I'm one of the few people in this world who does not think that David Sedaris is funny or deserves the critical acclaim that he has received for his various endeavors.His stories are not particularly funny or clever. I feel like anyone could be a David Sedaris. Sit some asshole down and tell him to write something remotely funny in a memoir kind of way, and there you have it: David Sedaris. The New Yorker will publish it at first in short stories and from there someone will ask you to compile it into a somewhat coherent novel and walk around like you did something special. He didn't. He doesn't. This book is no better than his previous "novels" but it sure is worse. Why?You can't truly be a good writer without smoking (if you didn't know, nicotine equals good writing). And in fact, you shouldn't quit smoking and have a skeleton smoking a cigarette on the cover of your new book. Just a thought.

  • Sam Quixote
    2019-04-09 07:57

    Is there anyone better to read when you want to relax and laugh a bit, than David Sedaris? I still think "Santaland Diaries" is must-read material for this time of year and "Me Talk Pretty One Day" is one of the funniest books I've ever read, full stop. So it's a given that when he publishes a new book I have to buy it immediately. I know, "When You are Engulfed in Flames" came out in 2008, this is 2011, but I did try and read it 3 years ago but I gave up frustrated. The solution to completing it this time? - audiobooks. Sedaris reading his stories is a different beast to reading them yourself. I love podcasts and felt that him reading his stories was like listening to a podcast, telling everyone funny stories that had happened to him, and so I got through this book in a day after a few enjoyable hours spent listening to him while driving.His bad baby sitter, Mrs Peacock, was a funny and strange character who demanded back scratches and that David and his sisters clean her house while their parents were on holiday; his Italian neighbour in New York, Helen, who was this extremely bullying and unlikable person and who beat up a disabled kid for accidentally pocketing a biro of hers; and the Normandy neighbour who turned out to be child molester. While his characterisations of real people is always brilliant, what I liked better were the anecdotes centred around himself - arguing with cab drivers for whom English was a second language; giving up smoking in Japan; or sitting on a plane in first class next to a Polish man who couldn't stop crying as he'd just buried his mother. The foreign element tips it over for me as it reminds me of the brilliance of "Me Talk Pretty One Day" which also focused on language and communication issues. And most touching of all were his love letters to his boyfriend Hugh, for who is clear he is deeply in love with. "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" is not his best book but definitely an entertaining audiobook, particularly when Sedaris attempts voices of some of the characters. The anecdotes are far from stale but also not as entertaining as other volumes and this is why it took me a few years to get around to finishing it. Having done so though, I'm glad I did, and can recommend this as an antidote to hours of tedious driving.

  • Rob
    2019-03-29 11:01

    A solid ★★★★ and damn near close to ★★★★★ that we'll settle for ★★★★½. But then again, I'm a serious Sedaris fiend.When You Are Engulfed In Flames makes Sedaris' previous collection, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, seem like a disaster, a complete train wreck. Which is unfair because I think that Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is a strong collection with some exemplary essays. And also because I get the feeling that it was a more personal werk for him, that he's a bit more exposed and vulnerable in those essays.Thematically, When You Are Engulfed In Flames is a reprise of Me Talk Pretty One Day -- highly focused on language and style, on the humanity of humiliation and (to echo some other reviewers) those dark places where our sentimentality tends to get the best of us. But it's a counterpoint melody to Me Talk Pretty One Day -- arrogant where the other was modest, chagrined where the other took delight.Structurally, this collection is an echo of Naked, though a bit more mature. As I wrote of DFW's Consider the Lobster, the essays are arranged well, jokes from earlier essays recurring, serving to inform your tittering later on. That said, the individual essays seem to follow a rhythm that is new for Sedaris. If this were an elementary school music class, I would say that his earlier essays have a rhyme scheme that goes ABAB, these are turned more toward ABCA.But if you're reading this, it's probably because you were curious what I thought of When You Are Engulfed In Flames. By now, you (dear reader) have already made up your mind about David Sedaris and have either worked your way through this collection or else long ago discarded him, irrelevant as an expended filter tip.

  • David
    2019-03-23 07:59

    This new collection of essays by David Sedaris is unobjectionable, but fails to come anywhere near the hilarity of his best effort, "Me Talk Pretty Some Day". Most of the pieces remind one of "Seinfeld", being about nothing but the author's particular neuroses. Which range from being moderately entertaining ("Memento Mori", buying a human skeleton and its aftermath) to weirdly offputting ("April in Paris", in which the author's fascination with spiders is merely grotesque).True fans may enjoy this. If you are new to Sedaris, start with one of his earlier books. This book is primarily navelgazing, told with little of the wit that characterized his earlier work.It probably didn't help this review that I was reading Sedaris in parallel with Orwell's "A Collection of Essays" - the comparison only serves to emphasize the flimsiness of most of the Sedaris pieces.

  • Eva
    2019-03-27 09:41

    Oké, dit is vast vloeken in de kerk, maar ik vind hier echt niets aan. David Sedaris is een enorme zeur. Meer niet. Niets grappigs aan. Voor mij is het onbegrijpelijk dat hij zo de hemel in wordt geprezen. Maar ja, humor is zeer persoonlijk. Bovendien, als Sedaris een beetje lijkt op de persoon die hij beschrijft, dan is hij echt een bijzonder onaangenaam iemand. Dat maakt het lezen van dit boek echt een tergend langzame bezigheid.... -English-Okay, this is probably frowned upon, but I really do not care for this book. David Sedaris is an enormous nag. Nothing more. Nothing funny about it. For me it is incomprehensible that he is so praised. But well i suppose humor is very personal. Moreover, if Sedaris is a bit like the person he describes, then he is really a particularly unpleasant person. That makes reading this book an excruciating slow business ....

  • Jessi
    2019-04-21 05:01

    The first time I had ever heard David Sedaris was when he once appeared on Letterman and read an essay about a "Stadium Pal" the perfect accessory for a sports fan or full time trucker. Basically a catheter like situation that flows into a bag that is "conveniently" taped to your calf. It is for when you just don't want to get up and go to the washroom, you can pee into this sac and deal with the urine at a later time. (Other then the recommendation to not wear shorts apparently the skys the limit with the Stadium pal)Sedaris points out that this product was marketed exclusively to men as woman would have more sense then to piss themselves in public. I laughed my ass off. When You Are Engulfed in flames has this essay and many more and Sedaris, himself narrates the audiobook. I love Sedaris, his voice makes the experience that much more enjoyable. My favourite bits are when he is either outraged about something or when he tells stories that are about his family. One of my favourite stories takes place when he is 11 years old and his parents leave him and his sisters with a strange babysitter for a week.She is an overweight hillbilly who David and his sisters instantly dislike. When she walks around their house, she had "this look as if she was as good as them, if not better " to which 11 year old Sedaris states "that just wasn't true" This is what I love! Sedaris trying to not come off as a total snob but in essence the whole story is about how appalled they are by the class of this woman. The children take note of every infraction this woman commits and record these infractions and then"As I read aloud from the complaint book during the daily crisis meeting we had in the woods behind our house" I don't know what I love better the daily crisis meeting or the fact that there was a complaint book. I think its all gold!I will definitely be getting more of Sedaris' stuff, truly enjoyed this.

  • N W James
    2019-03-22 05:50

    I didn't care much for Sedaris' last book, Dress your family in corduroy and denim. It felt forced, his embellishments more absurd to the point where I felt it was obvious which events actually happened and which were invented to make the story more interesting. When You Are Engulfed in Flames was calmer in tone, more believable and felt less deadline inspired. Most of the stories revolve around the author and his partner, as opposed to the Sedaris brood - Gretchen, Lisa, the Chicken and, of course, that weird woman whose always on David Letterman talking about her imaginary boyfriend. The entire last quarter is about Sedaris' recent break with smoking and the extended vacation they took to Japan to alter his everyday routine. Like the rest of the book, it felt genuine, seamless, and reminded the reader that Sedaris isn't just flash-in-the-pan pop culture: the man can write, especially endings, more specifically, the last sentence of an essay...enjoy:(from The Smoking Section)Its not their germs that put me off. I'm simply afraid that on taking one between my fingers, I'll snap to remember, with clarity, just how good a cigarette would taste right now.(from The Understudy)Framed through the window, they looked like figures on a stage, two characters who seem like opposites and then discover they have a lot in common: a similarly hard upbringing, a fondness for the jugged Burgandies of California, and a mutual disregard for the rowdy matinee audience, pitching their catcalls from beyond the parted curtain.(from Of Mice & Men)The fire spread, the house was consumed, and these are certainly dark times, both for the burning, and those who would set them alight.(from The Monster Mash)It was the look you get when facing a sudden and insurmountable danger: the errant truck, the shaky ladder, the crazy person who pins you to the linoleum and insists, with increasing urgency, that everything you know and love can be undone by a grape.