Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When You are Engulfed in Flames

"A good [short story] would take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit."
David Sedaris

I have no idea why I think you'd be interested in my reading journey, but in order to keep up with the steady stream pouring from the library, I'm not doing much more than reading right now. And I did actually vacuum and was forced to do laundry this weekend. If you'd rather hear about that, just let me know. It's much rarer than reading a book around my place so you should probably seize your opportunity.

My last literary package included When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. I was curious because I've only read bits and pieces of him before but he's coming here (October?) so I thought I should see if I need to catch a superstar or not. And I enjoyed this collection of stories. Some people won't. In fact, if you are a) easily offended and b)if you can't laugh and be offended all at once, then this probably isn't for you. Language, theme, point of view, lifestyle...there's plenty of potential offense, but there's also so much cleverness, wit, and dry observation about the extreme absurdity that sometimes surrounds us (and that we even contribute all on our own) that I could not help but be entertained and laugh. Out loud. They are short stories and easy to read, but they take a little longer to think about. And I still don't know whether I need to go and hear him in person, but...maybe.

From When You are Engulfed in Flames (the fact that there's a human skeleton hanging in his bedroom is one of those things about Sedaris' stories...hard to understand, harder to explain, but so weird as to be funny all on its own. There's a lot of that.):
"Its funny how certain objects convey a message -- my washer and dryer, for example. They can't speak, of course, but whenever I pass them they remind me that I'm doing fairly well. "No more laundromat for you," they hum. My stove, a downer, tells me every day that I can't cook, and before I can defend myself my scale jumps in, shouting from the bathroom, "Well, he must be doing something. My numbers are off the charts." The skeleton has a much more limited vocabulary and says only one thing: "You are going to die.""

My last book in the first library onslaught is "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz. I've started reading, but this one I may not finish. I'm having a couple of problems with this one, and I've got two romances, one mystery, and Laura Castoro's new book to read. Oh, and I'm trying to get one million entries for the Arkansas Writers Conference ready by the end of the month because I figure that'll greatly increase my odds of something, anything placing. And we all know how I feel about that. I've got some ground to cover and Oscar may just be standing in my way, but if I can get this one read, it'll be expanding I'm sure.

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