Customer Reviews for

When You Are Engulfed in Flames

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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
  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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 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 March 22, 2012

    Laughed out loud

    Great book! Laughed out loud. Writes what most of us are thinking but afraid to say outloud. Love the un-political-correctness! Refreshing!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2012

    Worth every penny

    I love DS! Awesome read. Humorus and entertaining, leaves you hungry for more DS. Worth every penny. Buy it read it love it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    Yvqandrew Hffffhggggggi I love this book

    I Love this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Great Storytelling

    This is great short story telling. Funny and fascinating. This man has quite a diverse past that pulsates through his writting. I will ofcourse pick up his other short essay from books...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    another complicated mess of excellent prose

    Sedaris again clutches readers and pulls them deeply into a pool of human emotion. Almost mystically, his simple stories carry a lifetime of understanding and experience page after page. As a true artist, he frames real love with harsh feelings of frustration and anger that only further define humanity.-SIF

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Comedy gold.

    By far his best work to date. Sedaris can make the mundane seem interesting. His is a unique voice that never disappoints. This latest installment of essays reveals more about his quirky family, his patient boyfriend Hugh and David's own oddities than ever before. A must have.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Laugh Out Loud

    David Sedaris has found new slices of life to make us laugh out loud, again. The highlights of this book include his cough drop landing in a woman's lap, he clarifies what men should wear bow ties, and how to scare birds away from your home. David's style of taking a wandering journey through his life, through his eyes is a well woven tapestry in this book. Each short story stands alone, and stands the test of second and third reads. If you have never read David Sedaris before, this is the book to try!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    one of my favorites.....

    LOVE IT!!! one of his best pieces of work! as hilarious as the rest of them...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    hilarious

    David Sedaris has not let us down with his latest book. Laugh out loud funny.Love it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Hilarity

    I thought I possibly couldn't love David Sedaris's quirky tales anymore than I already do, but this book has proved me wrong.I love how some of his stories are somewhat outlandish but at the same time you find yourself identifying and laughing your butt off. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, and his others as well. This one I felt focused more on himself than his family life, but the laughs are great and many.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Stomachache laugh funny

    My first read by this author - highlt recommend. Laughed so hard at times I was crying. Love this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Hilarious and Pitch-Perfect

    This collection of essays is side-splittingly funny - no surprise there. However, there is more emotional depth here than he has displayed in the past, and I was moved by his reflections on friendship, addiction, and death. The longer essay about his odyssey to quit smoking in Japan is fantastic, it feels far shorter than its 80+ pages. A fantastic book all around.

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