When You Are Engulfed In Flames



 Author: David Sedaris

 Title: When You Are Engulfed In Flames

 Genre: Essay collection, Humor

 Publication Date: 2008

 Number of Pages: 336

Audio Player Running Time: 9   hours

 Geographical Setting: North Carolina/  France/New York

 Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary:  This is Sedaris’ sixth essay collection, and like the others it offers a humorous and absurd look into his life and the world around him.  He takes ordinary situations like making coffee and picking out a tie and makes them into hilarious stories that go far beyond the topic at hand.  Listening to Sedaris read his essays is even more satisfying than reading them.  His delivery is spot on and his timing and cadence add to the hilariousness and quirkiness of each essay.  Four of the recordings are live, which draws the listener in even more as Sedaris has to pause for the audience’s laughter to subside.  On a side note, some pieces do have strong language, but it is not gratuitous.

Subject Headings:  Essayists, Humorists, Memoir, Satirists, American culture, GLBTQ

Appeal:  humorous, witty, quirky, engaging, compelling, conversational, relaxed, candid, satirical, strong language, authentic, intimate

 3 terms that best describe this book: humorous, satirical, authentic

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works

Fierce Pajamas: an Anthology of Humor Writing from the New Yorker David Remnick and Henry Finder (eds.)

This is a collection of articles from The New Yorker that has over 70 contributors.  Comic writers like Ogden Nash, Woody Allen, Steve Martin and Groucho Marx are just some of the humorous literary writers you will find.  It is the humorous literary style that I think will appeal to Sedaris fans.

Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs (audio 9 hours)

Like Sedaris, Burroughs also writes collections of memoir essays.  His essays are funny, irreverent and eccentric, but can also be racy and edgy.  His essays run the gamut from his childhood, love life, career, and battle with alcoholism.  Burroughs‘ reading of his work adds to the humor and realness of the stories.

Who’s to Say What’s Obscene by Paul Krassner

This collection of essays has the same satirical humor of Sedaris’ work, but is definitely edgier.  Readers may wonder if some pieces are more offensive than funny, but all will definitely make the reader think about today’s society and the hypocrisy that is often found surrounding it.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works                                                                                              

Bear v. Shark by Chris Bachelder

This quirky satirical novel about a fighting match between a mechanical shark and a mechanical bear sounds like something Sedaris would write about if he had a chance to experience it.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Those enjoying the satirical and humorous elements of Sedaris’ work may enjoy those same element’s in Toole’s novel.

Everything is Illuminated: A Novel  by Jonathan Safran Foer

The witty writing style and humor mixed with the bittersweet in Everything is Illuminated may appeal to fans of Sedaris’ essay collections.



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