Wednesday, July 9, 2008

When You Are Engulfed in Flames Should have Been Titled When you have Too Much Money and are not Really Funny Anymore

Okay so maybe I'm being too hard on David Sedaris & his latest book. But I'm not the only one who thinks it's not his best. What annoyed me about about two-thirds of the book is how often he kept bringing up how much money or how successful he currently is. Now I'm not anyone to begrudge someone their wealth or material joy. This does not mean I wish to read of it over & over. Especially in part because some of Mr. Sedaris's former books have had wonderful stories that had nothing to do with "the lush" life. Actually a number of his funniest stories have to do with either his family, his past drug use or working shitty jobs.

This time his latest "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" has stories of the author dealing with the "pains" of sitting in first class or the hardships he faced spending $20,000 quitting smoking in Japan. Is my lack of enjoyment due to my own lack of funds? Perhaps. I think it may be deeper than that. It may be that Mr. Sedaris, being now quite popular & successful, just doesn't have the same edge in his experiences as he used to. His youthful mistakes & poverty are far more interesting and intense, than his current situation of having so much free time & money that all he can do is talk about collecting bugs for the spiders he leaves in his dusty windows because he's too lazy to clean them.

There were some moments that had me laugh out loud, which is the whole point of reading any of David's books. My favorite book of his (I've read them all) is Me Talk Pretty One Day. But in "When Engulfed" he has some one liner's that had my spouse wondering what was so damn funny. I enjoyed his description of some crackers he enjoyed eating that had, let's just say, a really interesting flavor. Another fun story was one in which he had to deal with a cough drop that accidentally flew from his mouth into the lap of the passenger sitting next to him after they had a less than pleasant exchange.

All in all the book was a decent summer read. It was not as satisfying overall as some of his others, but worth reading if in between books. I give it a 3 out of 5. Whatever that means.

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