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When You Are Engulfed in Flames

As an avid public radio listener, there are few story-sharing platforms I admire more than This American Life. Host and producer, Ira Glass, has an unparalleled gift for drawing outstanding stories out of everyday people—diamonds in the rough.

Ira Glass also happened to discover one of my favorite authors, David Sedaris, while Sedaris was reading his childhood diary at a comedy club in the early 90's. Glass invited Sedaris to read his radio essay, “SantaLand Diaries” on Morning Edition, which opened the door to Sedaris’s wild success.

The bestselling author, humorist, comedian, and occasional radio contributor has seven essay collections, all of which became New York Times bestsellers. Today, I am recommending his sixth collection, When You Are Engulfed in Flames.

My husband and I recently listened to the audiobook, which is read by Sedaris, during a road trip. We laughed past the point of tears. Sedaris’s sardonic sense of humor and societal observations filled our Subaru with uproarious laughter.

Essay after essay, the reader (or listener) is served hysterical everyday dilemmas, which culminate into a kind of diary of Sedaris’s midlife crisis, when he decides he will cease his 30 year smoking habit after his mother dies of lung cancer.


There are tender, smart, and sometimes self-deprecating moments throughout that make this collection of satire a work of art.  Check out Sedaris’s many books and recordings at the Sioux City Public Library.

Support for Check It Out comes from Avery Brothers




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