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When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David…
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When You Are Engulfed in Flames (original 2008; edition 2008)

by David Sedaris

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6,812222541 (3.89)206
Member:miss_read
Title:When You Are Engulfed in Flames
Authors:David Sedaris
Info:Little, Brown (2008), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:fiction, humour, US, memoir, essays, collection, short stories, 2000s

Work details

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (2008)

  1. 00
    Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs (sweetiegherkin)
    sweetiegherkin: These two nonfiction books deal with giving up a vice (alcohol and, to a lesser extent, drugs for Burroughs; cigarettes for Sedaris) and both do so with dark humor scattered throughout their memoirs. That being said, Sedaris's work is more funny than serious while the opposite is true for Burroughs's. Also, Sedaris's book is largely short stories/vignettes while Burroughs's follows a more traditional narrative. Both men are homosexual and that plays some factor in their books, although it's not the overarching story and/or theme.… (more)
  2. 00
    Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever by Joel Derfner (echo2)
  3. 00
    Fraud: Essays by David Rakoff (Cynara)
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Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
I have read all of Mr. Sedaris's books, and this one is right up there with the best of them. In fact, I'd almost put this at number one. This audio CD is in fact read by Sedaris, and there are something like four live readings with this CD, all of which bring back the bonhomie of a Sedaris concert. It's great fun hearing the audience reaction. An old blurb for "Me Talk Pretty Someday" said that Sedaris is our generation's Mark Twain; I'll second that.

There's one essay in particular, about Sedaris's trip to New York to stay with his sister Amy, that outdoes the "Can't Kill The Rooster" essay from "Me Talk Pretty" in terms of turning filthy language and outright obscenity into something charming and hilarious. It seems almost magical to me that Sedaris gets away with this.

The titular essay is very long and very funny, and concerns Sedaris and his partner Hugh's 3-month stint in Japan. This hits all the Sedaris hot buttons: learning a new language ("Me Talk Pretty" was about Sedaris learning French), dealing with strange customs and cultural mores, and bickering with Hugh and/or just about everyone else he (i.e., Sedaris) comes in contact with. Oh yeah and also, "When You Are Engulfed In Flames" is about Sedaris quitting smoking, after having sucked down the cigs for a good 30 YEARS.

Anyway, Brooklyn and I had started to fear that Sedaris had lost his touch, given the heavy, lugubrious tone in many of his recent New Yorker essays, but "When You Are..." has put the lie to our worries. Sedaris is better than ever. Oh me of little faith.

02/26/2010: Just listened to it again; still as enjoyable as ever. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris is his sixth collection of humorous essays. All of them feature Sedaris' self-deprecating wit. He can take the most mundane activity and skillfully fashion it into an amusing story. While this collection was mellower and more reflective than previous works, I still thought it was quite funny.

Long before I bought a copy of When You Are Engulfed in Flames, I listened to Sedaris tell his Stadium Pal story (in "Buddy, Can You Spare a Tie?") on NPR's This American Life. It left me doubled over with laughter, tears streaming down my face. My adult son found me in this condition in the kitchen, by the radio, unable to speak. After I recovered, I immediately found a recording of the program on line and had him listen to it.

If you have never had an opportunity to hear Sedaris tell one his stories, you are missing out. He can make an already funny story a hilarious story. In many ways it makes all of his stories even funnier if, while reading, you can hear them read by Sedaris, in his own voice and with his own timing. He is a master story-teller.

As far as the stories go, there were a few misses with me - but there were also several laugh-out-loud moments. This collection is Sedaris hitting mid-life. There are fewer stories of his family and more with his partner Huge. (And Sedaris is openly gay, so, if that bothers you, don't read him.) Most of these stories are for adults and contain some adult content.
Highly Recommended - for adults; http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/ ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Well written, but not as funny as his previous efforts. I have often laughed out loud, sometimes embarassingly so, at his writing, but this time, not so much. My favorite story in this collection is "That's Amore" which almost made me guffaw! And I enjoyed several of his stories that described various airplane adventures of his. Still, I did miss the belly laughs that he provoked in me in books past. ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 22, 2016 |
David Sedaris can make me laugh over some of the silliest things imaginable and I feel like I am sitting beside him when some of these events unfold. I could be the sister giggling next to him at the dinner table as elderly grandma passes gas with machine gun regularity and Dad asking "What are you kids laughing at?". I've been on the airplane with him when the elegantly dressed couple who look like they just came from the Westminster dog show sit next to us and converse in language so colored with cursing that it's beyond absurd. But more than anything else I can relate to last essay - quitting smoking. Although 'changing' one's environment is a good step towards breaking the habit I was not quite as fortunate as David in that he could go to Tokyo for 3 months I can relate to his struggle. Fortunately for me I did not have to kick drugs and alcohol as well (which David did). I like David and can't wait to visit with him again soon. ( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
Sadly lacking some of the wit and absurdity that I loved in "Me Talk Pretty One Day" though still a good read. "The Smoking Section" was far and away the best in the book. ( )
  CatherineJay | Dec 30, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Sedarisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Colombo, MatteoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deggerich, GeorgTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Richard, NicolasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sedaris, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Ronnie Ruedrich
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My friend Patsy was telling me a story.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316143472, Hardcover)

"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 Reviews

This 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." --Booklist

Table of Contents:

It's Catching
Keeping Up
The Understudy
This Old House
Buddy, Can You Spare a Tie?
Road Trips
What I Learned
That's Amore
The Monster Mash
In the Waiting Room
Solutions to Saturday's Puzzle
Adult Figures Charging Toward a Concrete Toadstool
Memento Mori
All the Beauty You Will Ever Need
Town and Country
Aerial
The Man in the Hut
Of Mice and Men
April in Paris
Crybaby
Old Faithful
The Smoking Section

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:43 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A collection of essays celebrates the foibles of the author's everyday life in France and America, from an attempt to make coffee with water from a flower vase to a drug purchase in a North Carolina mobile home.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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