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“Since when do politics affect a mammal’s ability to sustain a flame?”

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It doesn’t happen too often, but there are some books that fall into the category known as “books I cannot read on the subway.”

More often then not these are books that make me laugh out loud, or at the very least give me watering eyes and one of those uncontrollable grins that can’t be wiped off my face. I get very subconscious and don’t want people on the subway car staring at me wondering “Is he laughing or crying?” or “Why does he have a big silly grin on his face?” or “He’s crazy.”

One of the books in this category was Jonathan Lethem’s, Motherless Brooklyn, where my fits of laughter were similar to the main character’s comical Tourette’s Syndrome outbursts. I started that book on the subway but had to finish it in the confines of my own home. Another writer whose work I can no longer enjoy during my commute to and from work is George Saunders.

David Sedaris’ entire body of work fits into this category. I recently flew to Colorado and in the Dallas airport I bought his new collection of essays When You Are Engulfed in Flames. I read the first few on the plane and had to put the book away when the flight attendant asked if I was ok. I challenge anyone to read his description of using a Stadium Pal while keeping a straight face.

They say laughter is the best medicine. David Sedaris is an overdose. I finished his book on the privacy of a porch with Pikes Peak in the distance, tears running down my face, my laughter echoing in the valley.

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Sedaris Rocks!

Hey Billy Ohmigod....did you know that there is a video clip on YouTube of Sedaris reading the Stadium Pal on David Letterman? It is even more hysterical hearing him read it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBdymtyXt8Y Couldn't agree with you more. Last night, I was reading the very same in Starbucks, and had to stop when I realized everyone was staring at me (made even worse as I was reading it on my Kindle, which looks like I am laughing at a day-planner or oversized calculator.) Sedaris has this knack for hitting it right on the money. A few years back I was asked that age-old question about who I would have at a dinner party....most people said the usual, (Jesus, Gandhi, MLK, etc) I said "David and Hugh." A must read, as is anything he wrote (esp. Me Talk Pretty One Day, which still makes me laugh out loud years after having read it, at any spontaneous moment.) Gary

Ohmigod is right.... thanks

Ohmigod is right.... thanks for the link! I tried to catch his Union Square B&N reading when the book came out but half of Manhattan was also there. I left, figuring someone would post the reading on YouTube. Sure enough, it's there.

sedaris (engulfed)

it's a seriously funny book. laugh-out-loud funny -- that dry heave laughing where no noise actually comes out but your stomach is near to bursting (think Lou Costello). probably his best, alongside Me Talk Pretty One Day.

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