When You Are Engulfed in Flames

While I certainly won't call When You Are Engulfed in Flames the best David Sedaris collection that you can purchase for yourself, I will say that any David Sedaris is worth reading. Via Goodreads, I say four stars, but via LibraryThing, I say three and a half. (Come on, Goodreads, get with the half-star program.)
The observation I have for this collection is that with Mr. Sedaris giving up drinking, drugs, and smoking... his stories seem to be a bit more tame. Much more focus on his boyfriend Hugh or stories tinged with a bit of melancholy. The NY Times mentioned the story about his parents' art collection, which is perhaps one of the better crafted stories. My favorite, however, is called "Keeping Up" -- which talks about couples arguing on vacation and features Mr. Sedaris rehearsing his "I'm leaving you" speech to his boyfriend after Hugh's fast walking leaves Sedaris lost and alone in a zoo in Sydney.
In general, it's nice to see Hugh making more of an appearance in Sedaris' stories. Sedaris' previous volumes have focused so much on his siblings that when you realize how long he and Hugh have been together, you're a bit surprised that it's taken Sedaris this long to mine his significant other for material. In the past, he's popped up every now and then, but he's a much more substantial figure in this collection. As with Sedaris' other works, though, one can't help but wonder how his friends and relatives deal with having details of their lives published and sold. Unlike his parents and sisters, though, Sedaris consistently paints Hugh in a good light and one can't help but wonder how Sedaris can function without Hugh at times in this collection.
In any case, while you might want to wait to purchase a paperback version, this collection does have several good chuckles. I might not have been struggling for breath as I have once or twice in the past ("Six to Eight Black Men" comes to mind), but I still think that anyone who enjoys Sedaris should not miss this most recent offering.

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