When You Are Engulfed in Flames
David Sedaris, , read by the author. . Hachette Audio, $34.98 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-60024-182-6
Sedaris's sparkling essays always shimmer more brightly when read aloud by the author. And his expert timing, mimicry and droll asides are never more polished than during live performances in front of an audience. Happily, four of the 22 pieces are live recordings, and listeners can hear Sedaris's energy increase from the roaring, rolling laughter of the appreciative audience. Sedaris's studio recording of his 10-page “Of Mice and Men” runs 16 minutes, while the live recording of “Town and Country,” which runs the same length in print, expands to 22 minutes thanks to an audience that often doesn't let him finish a sentence without making him pause for laughter to subside. The studio recordings usually begin with an acoustic bass and brief sound effect (a buzzing fly, the lighting of a cigarette, the clinking of ice in a drink, etc.). Sedaris's brilliant magnum opus, “The Smoking Section” (about his successful trip to Tokyo is quit smoking) stretches across the final two CDs.
Reviewed on: 06/30/2008