This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Book Review: When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

I was excited that my book club selected this one for September meeting. Funny that I just finished this last evening, the last day of September. We discussed it this past Wednesday. I was far enough into it, though, that it really wasn't a problem to discuss.

I enjoyed the book. I think my favorite will always be my first introduction (Dress Your Family In Corduroy & Denim) but this one made me laugh out loud too.

Actually, the essay that was about his flight on the plane -- where he refuses to trade seats with the person at the "bulkhead" -- made me laugh so hard I was crying. I had to literally press the pause button, which in my case was to stop reading. I would start reading and start laughing hysterically, so I'd just "go" and laugh, then try again.

I LOVE THOSE MOMENTS. Nothing is more enjoyable in life than laughing uncontrollably. And David Sedaris never fails to make that happen.

This book covered more of his life with his man, Hugh, and the adventures they were on. A few anecdotes referred to Raleigh, but for the most part, it was his life as an adult.

He is an amazing writer -- being able to relay his experiences in such a funny way...and it's funny because I can relate to his line of thinking. He, in my opinion, is writing exactly what he is thinking in his head as things are happening.

In some small, itty-bitty way, I relate to that because I tend to walk around thinking "this would make a good blog post". I don't know if David really thinks that way, but he writes it as though he does.

I enjoyed reading that he quit smoking. I, too, used to smoke and it's one of those things, for YEARS, I wished I never started.

I imagine it is like starting heroin -- once you know it, you can't forget it. It's been a long time now, so I don't think about it often, but for years after quitting, I still missed that inhale with my coffee, that nice feeling of the smoke filling my lungs...then watching the smoke come out of my mouth. I liked holding my cigarette. I like flicking it when I was done. I enjoyed smacking my cigarette pack, packing all the tobacco in, before pulling out that first one from a fresh pack.

These are the thoughts that run through, I also imagine, smokers who quit. We forget that our mouth tastes awful, especially first thing in the morning. Or that when I flicked the cigarette, I almost set something ablaze. Or I did, because I flicked it out of my car window and it landed right back into the back of the car through the other window. Or that my chest felt heavy by the end of the day. And no cigarette tastes good when you are sick but I did it anyway. Or how expensive a pack, but most especially, a carton of cigarettes cost.

So reading Sedaris' 'diary' of his experience quitting reminded me of my old smoker self. And when he mentioned forcing himself to go swim, I was like "I'm doing that too!" Although not for the same reason.

I hear that it's worth listening to Sedaris' books on audio. Apparently, he reads his own work and it is worth reading the book, then listening to him read his own book to you.

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