So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

When You Are Engulfed in Flames

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
I have been a David Sedaris fan for a long time. He grew up in Raleigh and writes humorous sketches on life, often based on his experiences here in the City of Oaks. When I moved to Raleigh in 1979, he was the waiter at the coffee shop I frequented before going to work each morning. Most days it was David, DD (a woman who worked in a dairy lab at the land grant university across the street), and me. This was before he was a writer. He considered himself a performance artist at the time and would stage strange performances with his friend Avi for a small but confused audience of friends. I am glad he took up writing as he is much better at it than performance art.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames was written in 2008 around the time David was living in France and gave up smoking. There is a large 83 page Smoking Section at the end of the book where he recounts his experiences with smoking and ends with his three month trip to Japan to give up smoking "cold turkey." This book seems to be more introspective than his earlier works and includes many stories about his relationship with his partner Hugh Hamrick. His mixture of humorous observations on life, mixed with his own foibles, make for both funny and tender reading moments that are unique.

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