The Harbinger Online

The Book of the Week Project: “When You Are Engulfed In Flames”

Since I’ve only read extremely serious books thus far (exercise is serious, okay?!), I decided to give myself a little break with the thought-provoking literature. Instead, I reread one of my favorite books, David Sedaris’ “When You Are Engulfed In Flames.” All of David Sedaris’ books are hilarious (and I mean roflcopter funny), but WYAEIF, a collection of short stories and essays about Sedaris’ life, is my favorite.

[media-credit name=” ” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]My copy is signed by the man himself. My mom, my friend Sophie and I got to Rainy Day Books around six at night and as absolute last people in line, met him around two-thirty in the morning. As he gave us some bracelets and signed our books we got to chatting about France, where he and his boyfriend Hugh live. Sophie and I went to Academie Lafayette, a full-immersion French K-8 charter school in KCMO, for grade school, so we’re fluent in French. He tested us on a couple of words and then our conversation wrapped up. On our way home, his car drove next to ours and he waved at us. It was awesome.

Sedaris writes about real-life, uncomfortable, and sometimes awkward situations and how he handles them. His reflections turn the bizarre and sometimes scary scenarios into hilarious anecdotes. There isn’t a single story that doesn’t make me laugh out loud (which my sister can attest to, as she sat next to me while I was reading). I particularly love his stories about France, his homosexuality and his family.

In Sedaris’ story “In the Waiting Room,” he tells of how a language barrier-induced yes-man mentality results in his subjection to multiple medical procedures that ordinarily he might not have agreed to.

In “All the Beauty You Will Ever Need,” he talks about his attempt at explaining his homosexuality to his hick brother Paul’s drug dealer and his wife. He tells his coming out story in “Road Trips,” when a truck driver solicits him for oral sex and he has a roundabout way of declining. In “Buddy, Can You Spare A Tie?” Sedaris lays out some fashion don’ts that he has been victim of over the years (think portable catheter and a fake butt), often as a result of his friends and family members egging him on.

It’s a wonderful read if you’re looking for something light and a tad inappropriate, as are all of Sedaris’ books. If you’re looking for another punch of entertainment, I suggest listening to the audiobook. The words themselves are funny, but when they come straight from Sedaris’ extremely subtly effeminate voice, it’s hard to get ahold of yourself once you’ve started laughing. No matter which medium you choose, you are guaranteed at worst a chuckle and at best a need to change your pee-stained pants.

Have any suggestions for Helena? Post them in the comments or tweet @SME_Harbinger with the hashtag #bookaweekproject.

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