Summer Reading – When You Are Engulfed in Flames

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Jul 20, 2008 in Books I'm Reading |

I’ve been reading quite a bit this summer but have started to grow tired of stories of failed relationships and family tragedies…I just needed a change of pace.

When I heard an interview with David Sedaris on NPR last week about his new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, I thought it was just the change I was looking for in my next summer read.


Okay – the cover looks sort of scary and the title’s a little bit odd, but this is a great book that had me laughing out loud several times.

The book is a series of essays filled with life observations as seen by the author. The title comes from a Japanese hotel safety brochure written in poorly translated English. And the skeleton…David’s boyfriend Hugh asks for one for Christmas and then decides to hang it in the bedroom right next to the bed.

This is certainly not a book for children (or for conservative adults, for that matter), but you can’t help but find the humor in stories like “Solution to Saturday’s Crossword Puzzle” where the woman next to Sedaris on a plane that asks him to give up his seat to her husband so the couple can sit together – and Sedaris refuses because he doesn’t like where the husband is seated. The woman screams to her husband, calling Sedaris a very unflattering (and obscene) name across the aisle…then she falls asleep. At which point David sneezes and loses his cough drop on the woman’s lap – what to do…what to do…

Sedaris’ storytelling is so clever and funny…I just love his writing style. Some stories are silly and touching at the same time – others are just plain weird (like the babysitter who made David and his siblings scratch her back for hours with a “plastic hand attached to a foot-long wand” – or the birds that keep flying into his windows until Sedaris cuts pictures of terrorists’ faces out of the newspaper and hangs them on the glass). Either way, the stories are still lots of fun to read.

I started reading this book yesterday…and have finished all 323 pages by today! I was sorry when I’d read the last page – I wanted more of Sedaris’ wit. After reading this, I’m definitely going to pick up other books by this author and give them a try.

This book was indeed a nice change of pace – I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a little laughter while enjoying the summer sun.

1 Comment

[…] look inside the life of David Sedaris – I laughed out loud even more than his other book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames.  Again, not a book for children, but really, really funny – something light to contrast […]



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