Customer Reviews for

When You Are Engulfed in Flames

Average Rating 4
( 398 )
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(186)

4 Star

(118)

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(61)

2 Star

(24)

1 Star

(9)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

Comedy at its finest

Now, while I have heard a number of good things about David Sedaris' books, I have never actually read one before. Despite this, I was pretty excited about reading 'When You Are Engulfed in Flames', and I was not disappointed. Sedaris' newest book is a very funny collec...
Now, while I have heard a number of good things about David Sedaris' books, I have never actually read one before. Despite this, I was pretty excited about reading 'When You Are Engulfed in Flames', and I was not disappointed. Sedaris' newest book is a very funny collection of essays about ordinary everyday events in his life, or at least ordinary for him. All the stories in his book feel almost intertwined, possibly because they all to build up to a realization, almost like lessons he learned over time. Whether it is his realization that country spiders don't survive well in the city, or Sedaris eventually learning what makes one of his neighbors tick, Sedaris is very good at building a story over time. He can look at a number of events at different times and places, and see how he came to a better understanding because of these seemingly unrelated events. He also tends to make the simplest things seem more fun and exciting, such as quitting smoking. Not many people would decide to temporarily move across the world just to quit smoking. I think, in the end, David Sedaris is just skilled at comedy and story-telling in general. After all, isn't comedy just making the mundane amusing?

posted by Caelicoli on October 28, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

A little disappointing

Maybe because I've read all of his other books I found this one a little disappointing. I only laughed out loud until I cried while reading one of the stories, while in the past much more frequently. But I will still keep reading whatever he writes, as I do enjoy his ...
Maybe because I've read all of his other books I found this one a little disappointing. I only laughed out loud until I cried while reading one of the stories, while in the past much more frequently. But I will still keep reading whatever he writes, as I do enjoy his skewed way of looking at life.

posted by 1024097 on December 12, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2008

    Comedy at its finest

    Now, while I have heard a number of good things about David Sedaris' books, I have never actually read one before. Despite this, I was pretty excited about reading 'When You Are Engulfed in Flames', and I was not disappointed. Sedaris' newest book is a very funny collection of essays about ordinary everyday events in his life, or at least ordinary for him. All the stories in his book feel almost intertwined, possibly because they all to build up to a realization, almost like lessons he learned over time. Whether it is his realization that country spiders don't survive well in the city, or Sedaris eventually learning what makes one of his neighbors tick, Sedaris is very good at building a story over time. He can look at a number of events at different times and places, and see how he came to a better understanding because of these seemingly unrelated events. He also tends to make the simplest things seem more fun and exciting, such as quitting smoking. Not many people would decide to temporarily move across the world just to quit smoking. I think, in the end, David Sedaris is just skilled at comedy and story-telling in general. After all, isn't comedy just making the mundane amusing?

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2009

    A little disappointing

    Maybe because I've read all of his other books I found this one a little disappointing. I only laughed out loud until I cried while reading one of the stories, while in the past much more frequently. But I will still keep reading whatever he writes, as I do enjoy his skewed way of looking at life.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2008

    Not Sedaris's Best

    David Sedaris offers yet another compilation of humorous life essays that are a pale comparison to other hilarious books he's previously written. The younger Sedaris sharing family stories is far funnier than this newly reformed wiser man attempting to filter out impure unhealthy habits. Always a pleasure to read his stories, but this is not his best.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Hot mess

    I love David Sedaris, but this book is a DISASTER. It's hard to believe that he's the author. There are few things worse than looking forward to a new book by a favorite author and instead being sold a pile of garbage. It's not funny, it's not insightful. This book reads like Sedaris gathered up all of the stories he'd thrown away over years of writing- the ones too awful for anyone else to see, and then had them published to see if any of us were dumb enough to read them.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 26, 2008

    Never heard of him before

    Ok, I am an avid reader, but I had never heard of David Sedaris before. A friend loaned me this book she had picked up at a second hand book store, said 'read it, it is hysterical'. I was up to the challenge. Never have I read a book as funny and mocking on the top layer, but acknowleding the sad and ugly things just under that surface. He says the things that we all think, and some that we hadn't thought of yet. He is a master with words and I am defintly going to purchase my own copy of 'when you are engulfed in flames' so that I can have one all my own (with the dust cover) to read over again. My favorite line in the whole book was on page 233 "Sometimes the sins you haven't commited are all you have to hold on to." pure, dark, and simple. love it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2008

    Funny and Insightful

    This is a good book to read when you're looking for a light funny read. The author helps you not to take life so seriously. I¿d recommend it for all adults.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    When You Are Engulfed in Hilarity...then you must be listening to David Sedaris.

    A few months ago, a friend loaned me the audio book of Sedaris' earlier book DRESS YOUR FAMILY IN CORDUROY AND DENIM. I listened to most of it in one sitting on a long drive between Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia. The next time I had to make the drive, I walked into B&N and with the firm knowledge that I wanted another Sedaris audiobook. I was already aware of his writing from his contributions to THIS AMERICAN LIFE (just about the best thing on broadcast radio). Listening to these audiobooks has been like nursing an exotic and decadant dessert that never makes your teeth ache.

    If you are the kind of person who enjoys essays and memoirs, I would definitely recommend Sedaris, and WHEN YOU ARE ENGULFED IN FLAMES particularly. If you don't mind that the author is not always entirely likeable, Sedaris will be a good fit. In some ways I've enjoyed him as much as Augusten Burroughs (RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, DRY, A WOLF AT THE TABLE), although Sedaris does not come across as mean as Burroughs can.

    I'm a little compulsive and definitely a completist. I will probably read or listen to everything that David Sedaris has published over the next few months. I will then loan all these to my friends and family. I will then be bewildered when they are not as wildly ecstatic about him as I have become. That's the way it is with me. I'm weird. If you are the kind of weird who enjoys Augusten Burroughs (memoir), Sarah Vowell (essay), and Chris Moore (absurdist humor), then I feel reasonably confident that you will be in love with the writing of David Sedaris.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Spot-on, witty, and utterly relatable.

    I've also read "Naked" and "Me Talk Pretty One Day," and of the three, this is by far my favorite. Sedaris does an excellent job of taking somewhat different tales and weaving them together so that the book in its entirety is not disjointed. I kept finding myself thinking, "I've thought/experienced exactly the same thing and could never articulate it as well as he does." He says the things that we are too polite to discuss out loud, with riotous results. A page-turner worthy of a second read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 7, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    David Sedaris delivers another dose of humor!

    Although I've read all of Sedaris' books, I continue to anticipate the next one as if it is something new. "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" does contain several essays found in his previous books, however, they still have the same LOL results. I would highly recommend "Holidays on Ice" for Holiday reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2008

    Funniest Book I've Ever Read!!!

    This book is laugh outloud hilarious! I would recommend it to anyone with an open mind and great sense of humor! If you didn't like this book, you've got serious issues and are obviously closed minded. I loved it and will probably read it many more times as the years go by!!! I love David Sedaris and can't wait for new material!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2008

    Not my style┬┐

    David Sedaris style is understated humor. When Your Are Engulfed In Flames is a collection of his short stories and essays. I have not read any of Mr. Sedaris¿ previous books. I did find a few humorous moments, but nothing that made me laugh aloud or even brought a little chuckle. However, that does not make Sedaris a bad writer it makes his style not my style.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2008

    Train Ride Read

    Mr. Sedaris is a great essay and memoir writer. I must confess that this book does not hold up to the hype of his previous books, but this book holds a sense of togetherness in the life of Mr. Sedaris until now. I would recommend this easy read to other readers who enjoy simplicity with a dab of twists and turns that Sedaris always has in store for the audience.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2008

    Been here, read that

    In this latest collection, David Sedaris provides literary proof for the cliche 'going to the well once too often.' I couldn't escape the feeling of 'been there, read that' while perusing these essays. True, Sedaris has always relied on the subjects of family, language difficulties, his relationship, and his love affair with smoking for his work, but he usually provides some new percptions that catch the reader off guard. Not here. Make no mistake, even repetitive, derivative Sedaris can be droll and amusing. And if he is going to be derivative,there are worse sources then his ownn writings to use as a source. Not bad, but I had hoped for better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2008

    So Good

    This book is admittedly different from some of Mr. Sedaris' earlier work. I agree that it is, at times, dark, but I don't think it was without meaning. His honesty comes through about his present life - it seems that he is more comfortable talking about topics which before were off-limits - we get to know his relationshp with Hugh better in this book, which, to this point, has been just tangentially explored. I think he is a genius, and I love that he is able to give us a different perspective on everyday occurrences. Can't wait for the next one.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2013

    Hilarious. A must read!

    this is hilarious. david sedaris is hysterical, leaves no one untouched, and tells his tale with wry humor. love this!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013

    I don't even want to rate this.

    Only reason why? I need to post this.

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    It's unfortunate that one star is the lowest rating you can give

    It's unfortunate that one star is the lowest rating you can give a book. This book is nothing short of pornographic. Sedaris stoops as low as anyone can, covering topics ranging from drug use and homosexuality to epic levels of erotic and perverted sex - including but not limited to bestiality.It is a sad example of today's "literature" and sadder still that this book and its writer have been touted as best-selling. What this book is, is testamony to just how desensitized society has become to the appalling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2012

    Amazingly hilarious.

    That is all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Freaking awesome!

    This is....freaking awesome!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2012

    Hilarious!

    If you have a dry quirky sense of humor, you will love this book. Sedaris discusses everything from flaming mice to giving skeletons as gifts to loving Kabuki theater. This collection of experiences, rants and observations by Sedaris is one of my favorites. Not since Me Talk Pretty One Day have I laughed so much!

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