Dec 27, 2017

[Books] When You Are Engulfed in Flames Audible Review

So my venture into the writings of David Sedaris sort of began and ended with Me Talk Pretty One Day but I took forever to get around to reading more of is books and ironically I didn't even truly "read" the book.

I went with the audio book,

I've mostly stuck with author-read books in terms of my Audible audio book selections as I feel there's something unique about hearing the words from them. It ties to the notion that you're hearing the words as the author may have imagined how they sounded in his or her head during the writing of the book.

I'm not sure if David Sedaris is someone that I'd want to listen to at length after this audio book experience. It's not innately bad, but it's just not something that flows with me precisely right. But I won't let this get in the way of enjoying his writing.

Synopsis: When You Are Engulfed in Flames is a collection of essays my American humorist David Sedaris. This is his sixth such book released.

As with his other books, this one collects a number of essays involving Sedaris looking back at his life. They're mostly snippets of stories and not necessarily a chronological set of stories set in a particular period.

If anything, it does feel like we touch on a lot of stories from his time living outside the US, including learning Japanese and experiencing different cultures. There's also a lot about his life with partner Hugh and the quirks of their relationship.

And all this in his unique style of near prose.

What I Liked: There are some real gems in this book, one of the most notable being the story of the lozenge that fell from David's mouth and onto another password on the plane. This also tied to a brilliant sort of narrative device in the form of the crossword puzzle he was working on at the time. It's hard to explain but the full story is quite brilliant.

The stories tied to his efforts to quit smoking and learn Japanese were also quite fun. His random sharings of translations that he learns and his frustrations with the class as a whole make for great moments of humor and a lot of honest personal sharing.

What Could Have Been Better: More and more you find that David Sedaris can be a bit of a cranky, eccentric man who has not exactly had the most positive outlook in terms of dealing with other people. And that can make some of the essays and stories a little harder to stomach or appreciate.

The audio book reading sort of reinforces this as he is quite literally an Jewish man reading stories of his darker thoughts about people. Humor at the expense of others can be easy to craft but can be a little tiring over time as well. So it really depends on what you're into.

TL;DR: When You Are Engulfed in Flames is a fun enough audio book and you'll find yourself chuckling more than not at this or that moment in these stories. Take things with a grain of salt and try not to read too deeply into things either. Thus the book gets a good 3 uncomfortable moments with his neighbor out of a possible 5.


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