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Publisher's Summary

Once again, David Sedaris brings together a collection of essays so uproariously funny and profoundly moving that his legions of fans will fall for him all over again.

He tests the limits of love when Hugh lances a boil from his backside, and pushes the boundaries of laziness when, finding the water shut off in his house in Normandy, he looks to the water in a vase of fresh cut flowers to fill the coffee machine.

From armoring the windows with LP covers to protect the house from neurotic songbirds, to the awkwardness of having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a sleeping fellow passenger on a plane, David Sedaris uses life's most bizarre moments to reach new heights in understanding love and fear, family and strangers.

Culminating in a brilliantly funny account of his venture to Tokyo in order to quit smoking, David Sedaris' sixth essay collection has been avidly anticipated.

©2008 David Sedaris (P)2008 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

2008 Grammy Nominee, Best Spoken Word Album

"Older, wiser, smarter and meaner, Sedaris...defies the odds once again by delivering an intelligent take on the banalities of an absurd life." (Kirkus Reviews)"This latest collection proves that not only does Sedaris still have it, but he's also getting better....Sedaris's best stuff will still - after all this time - move, surprise, and entertain." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall


This was my first exposure to David Sedaris... I've been looking at this book in the book store for several weeks and am very glad I made the choice to listen to it read by the author. I agree with many of the other reviewers, side splitting funny. But if you're homophobic, sexually squimish, don't understand or recognize irony or satire, can't read (listen) between the lines you may fall into the territory of the two or three reviewers who didn't like this book... I was sorry to see (hear) it end and believe that Mr. Sedaris has some of the most unique insight of my generation.

34 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • C. Telfair
  • Shepherdstown, WV, United States
  • 06-24-12

You Must Hear Him Read This!

Those who have encountered David Sedaris on Public Radio know that his voice is unique, and hearing it is a deciding factor in enjoying his work. So, when a book comes out, I immediately go for the audio version. It's one of the rare cases in which hearing the author read his own work is preferable to hearing another professional narrator.

Some of his other books are better than this one - notably "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and "Holidays on Ice". But, there are laughs aplenty here and the usual quirky, cynical outlook on life. Cynical isn't always my cup of tea, but Sedaris definitely is!

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Don't Start with this One

What made the experience of listening to When You Are Engulfed in Flames the most enjoyable?

Love reading David Sedaris' stories, but listening is even better! But this is not the book to start with if you haven't read or listened to his earlier work yet. The earlier work is better, but this was still definitely good and had me laughing out loud while stuck in traffic.

What does David Sedaris bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His comedic timing and the parts that are recorded with live audiences. I've had the privilege of seeing Mr. Sedaris live twice and there's such energy and he changes up his delivery in response to the audience.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

All of the ridiculous ones.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kelley
  • CA, United States
  • 06-18-08


A new book is always a little scary to the author's fans. You've so been looking forward to it and it would just be terribly sad if it stank.

I'm happy to report that there is no stank on this book at all. If anything, I think his writing has gained in depth without losing a fraction of its wit.

And those who believe authors should not read their own work are right about just about everyone except David Sedaris. There's a reason people line up to see him.

I just wish there was more Paul in this book. The brother appears in a perfectly crystalized cameo that just makes you ache for more.

It is otherwise wonderful. Add to cart immediatement.

43 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Joseph
  • Gibsons, British Columbia, Canada
  • 07-13-08

A more sombre Sedaris

I wished I liked this as much other reviewers but the fact is I didn't find this as funny as other Sedaris titles I've listened to. Don't get me wrong there were still plenty of bits that had me suppressing laughs on crowded buses and David Sedaris is a perfect narrator...That said there were lots of essays where I wasn't sure if he was going for humour or more serious writing and if it was supposed to be serious it didn't work for me.
I don't see a lot of humour in his relationship with Hugh, his love of spiders or his friendship with the village pedophile. I would suggest listening to some of his earlier books before this one.

21 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Still Giggling

I haven't laughed so hard in a very long time. No other narrator could have pulled it off with such charm. David Sedaris made every word amazingly believable.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

He's mellowing, but so am I. Love it.

I've loved Sedaris for years, but find that I've grown out of the "Naked" era lunatic-kinder stories. "Fun with meth" isn't meaning much to me as I get older. These new stories show Sedaris changing also -- and I love it. His "boring" romance with Hugh (who I find charming) is not boring at all. The story in the zoo, chokes me up every time (I've listened to it three times). At fifty, it's completely right that Sedaris should be facing death and doing it not in a LOL way, but a LQtM way. Even in the more outrageous stories, I find myself chuckling, thinking, "Yeah, buddy, you got that right."

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Cheryl
  • Long Beach, CA
  • 12-18-08

Are you sarcastic?

You have to have that kind of sense of humor to fully appreciate this book, and I do. I actually found myself laughing uncontrollably while food shopping. I’m sure people thought I was pretty unstable, but I couldn’t help it.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • David
  • Newark, DE, USA
  • 04-07-10

Good, though not what I expected

This was the first time I have listened to anything by the author. From reading the other reviews I figured that it would be a comedy or at least funny. It took me almost 3 chapters to figure out the authors sense of humor. Once I did, I did occasionally find myself laughing out loud. Overall a good book, but if you are looking for some easy humor/comedy this isn't the book for you.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rebecca
  • Plainfield, VT, United States
  • 05-17-09

Always interesting ..........

I did not enjoy this quite as much as his other books, at times the balance between darkness and humour was slightly out wack to me. If this is your first Sedaris book try 'Naked', or 'Dress your family in courduroy'. If you are a confirmed Sedaris fan like me, you will still want to download this, and you will still get plenty of enjoyment from it, even though like me, you may not list it as your absolute favourite.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful