Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When you are engulfed in essays.

Take any former white hat wearing i-banker you seen on the street (like that one over there), spout off an insulting remark about Dave Matthews Band (I hear "Typical Situation" is about litter box odor), and you will most likely get some defensive response about how they were listening to Remember Two Things before anyone else knew how to trip a billy. Or whatever.

That is kind of like my love for David Sedaris... at least I would like to think. Although I only faintly remember his SantaLand Diaries on NPR, my friends and I were plowing through his essays in high school when everyone else was reading the TV Guide description of the next Dawson's Creek episode. And while my adolescent dorkdom resulted in a few too many practices I'd rather not divulge, I am proud of our foresight and good taste.

By the time he came to Omaha my junior year of college, I already felt akin to him, even though he wouldn't know me from adam or any of the 300 college students clamoring to have their copies of Naked signed. (Or cookies. My friend Keith, not having a book with him, instead presented DS with a stale chocolate chip frisbee from Java Jay, which he graciously signed.)

During my last game of Run and Buy a Book from the Borders By the Bus Stop Before the Bus Comes, I bought "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" and finished it this weekend. Maybe my perspective has been skewed by time or jaded by personal experience, but this may very well be my favorite one of his books to date. I think I was getting tired of anecdote after anecdote and needed some larger life lesson to cling to... something grittier, even if it too came in anecdote form. WYAEIF waffles between stories from his childhood, adolescence and adulthood (the bulk of the book) with purpose and intensity. And while I could finish up one of his earlier collections and feel a connection to David Sedaris at 10 or 16 or 21, I now feel like I understand the David Sedaris of today. I'm more of a recommender than a reviewer, so if I keep speaking to the subject, I will end up sounding like a hack. Long story short, the book is worth the time and hardcover price - IMHO. That's technology speak for In My Humble Opinion. In exchange for that nugget, give the book a try. If you don't enjoy it, I'll take your copy for posterity. I think I left mine at the airport.

No comments: