Now, while I have heard a number of good things about David Sedaris' books, I have never actually read one before. Despite this, I was pretty excited about reading 'When You Are Engulfed in Flames', and I was not disappointed. Sedaris' newest book is a very funny collection of essays about ordinary everyday events in his life, or at least ordinary for him. All the stories in his book feel almost intertwined, possibly because they all to build up to a realization, almost like lessons he learned over time. Whether it is his realization that country spiders don't survive well in the city, or Sedaris eventually learning what makes one of his neighbors tick, Sedaris is very good at building a story over time. He can look at a number of events at different times and places, and see how he came to a better understanding because of these seemingly unrelated events. He also tends to make the simplest things seem more fun and exciting, such as quitting smoking. Not many people would decide to temporarily move across the world just to quit smoking. I think, in the end, David Sedaris is just skilled at comedy and story-telling in general. After all, isn't comedy just making the mundane amusing?
I ADORE David Sedaris and his new book does not disappoint. His sense of humor, timing, and stories are BRILLIANT!
I have to say I am disappointed in this book. I *loved* Sedaris' "Dress Your Family in Corduroy & Denim" and "Me Talk Pretty One Day" so I jumped at his newest. I found myself bristling at more of the stories than really enjoying them. There was a very long story about spiders (which I hate) and plenty of stories about his experiences being gay, the awkwardness of befriending a child molester, etc. Perhaps I was just alienated by this book. If this was your first David Sedaris book, however, don't be put off, a lot of his stories are much sharper.
So apparently I'm the one to rain on the David Sedaris parade.
I have listened to him tell his own stories on This American Life. And he is hilarious. When he tells those stories he holds you in the palm of his hand and you cannot help but laugh and be moved.
In print, forget about it. I read Dress Your Family and hated it. He comes off as bitchy and unbelievable. So I thought that I would try When you are engulfed and he still sounds bitchy and unbelievable. He is that guy who makes you roll your eyes and wish desperately you were at the dentist. For me, his humor just doesn't work in print.
From now on i'm going to avoid his books and hope I catch him on the radio.
A quick and easy book to read. I didn't find this book nearly as funny as some of his earlier books, although I still found myself laughing out loud at a few parts. If you are a David Sedaris fan, then I would consider this book a must read - so you can judge for yourself.