Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Tessa Bright Wildsmith
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David Sedaris is one of the funniest authors I’ve ever read. He’s not funny in the traditional sense since most of his books are a collection of essay memoirs, but his perspective on his own life events is full of wit, humor and self-observation. I can’t think of any author who can make me laugh harder.

“When You Are Engulfed in Flames” is Sedaris’ seventh collection of essays, and it’s just as funny and revealing as the six that came before. The main essay is about Sedaris taking a trip to Japan to quit smoking, but it’s also filled with funny stories about adventures with his boyfriend, Hugh, his sister’s strange magazine collection and his gravel-voiced, crude neighbor Helen.

Each essay reads like a stream of consciousness; and even though each essay is about a totally different topic, somehow it all flows together as a beautiful book of unique perspectives. They range from laugh-out-loud to touching and heartfelt. Each is unique and interesting in its own way.

Other than his wonderful books, Sedaris is also well known for his readings on NPR’s “This American Life.” His stories are always quirky and memorable.

I’m a lover of books - real books not the audio version. I typically want to hold the book in my hand and see the ink and smell the pages. Sedaris is one author who is different for me, however. He’s the only author I would recommend the audio version over the actual book. I read the first few Sedaris books, but after seeing him do live readings, I decided to try one of his audio books. He reads the stories himself on the audio version. The books are funny when read, but when he reads them, they are ten times funnier. His delivery and quirkiness make the story so much more amusing. It comes through the way he meant it to when he is the one delivering the message.

Sedaris’ stories may not be for everyone. He tells very truthful stories that most people would be highly embarrassed to admit about themselves. There’s no topic he won’t talk about, even though I’m sure his family and boyfriend often wish he wouldn’t. He takes small everyday events from his own life and puts them under a microscope for the reader’s amusement.

If you’re looking for a clever, funny read, I highly recommend any of Sedaris’ books. He’s an original author, and I haven’t found any one who can match his wit or humor or his honest observations about life. He has the unique ability to make you laugh out loud or tell incredibly poignant, heartfelt stories. Sedaris is one-of-a-kind, and he never disappoints.

Have you read “When You Are Engulfed in Flames?” Discuss your thoughts on the book below.

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