When You Are Engulfed In Flames

When You Are Engulfed in Flames

First edition cover
Author David Sedaris
Country United States
Language English
Genre Essay collection
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
Publication date
June 3, 2008
Media type Print (hardcover), audio book
Pages 323 pp (first edition, hardcover)
ISBN ISBN 0-316-14347-2 (first edition, hardcover)
OCLC 183392234
814/.54 22
LC Class PS3569.E314 W48 2008
Preceded by Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Followed by Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary

When You Are Engulfed in Flames is a collection of essays by bestselling American humorist David Sedaris. It was released on June 3, 2008.


Sedaris’s sixth book assembles essays on various situations such as trying to make coffee when the water is shut off, associations in the French countryside, buying drugs in a mobile home in rural North Carolina, having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a fellow passenger on a plane, armoring windows with LP covers to protect the house from neurotic songbirds, lancing a boil from another’s backside, and venturing to Japan to quit smoking. Little, Brown and Company issued a first-run hardcover release of 100,000 copies.

Television appearances

Sedaris was a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central on June 3, 2008. During the interview he recommended moving to Hiroshima, Japan for three months to stop smoking. This smoking cessation method, which cost the author $23,000, is the subject of the last essay of his book. He also described the genesis for the name of his book. It was the name of a chapter in a book he found in a hotel room in Hiroshima, Japan. He also appeared on The Late Show on CBS, with David Letterman.

Cover art

The first-edition cover was designed by Chip Kidd. It features an early painting by Vincent van Gogh.[1]

Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette, oil on canvas, 1885, Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam


(Check Numeration)

  1. It’s Catching – A work on Hugh and his mother
  2. Keeping Up – Sedaris trying to keep up with Hugh, who walks too fast
  3. The Understudy – Memories of a bad white trash babysitter.
  4. This Old House – David moves into a boarding house.
  5. Buddy, Can You Spare a Tie? – Sedaris’s recollections on various bad clothing and “accessories”
  6. Road Trips – Being picked up by a driver that wants a blow job.
  7. What I Learned – Talking about Princeton
  8. That’s Amore – A rude neighbor named Helen
  9. The Monster Mash – Sedaris’s fascination with dead bodies.
  10. In the Waiting Room – Language barriers and the consequences
  11. Solution to Saturday’s Puzzle – David’s throat lozenge falls on to a bitchy airplane seatmate
  12. Adult Figures Charging Toward a Concrete Toadstool – His parents collecting art
  13. Memento Mori – Buying a human skeleton for Hugh
  14. All the Beauty You Will Ever Need – Making coffee without water and his relationship with Hugh
  15. Town and Country – A cabdriver in New York who talks about his sex life
  16. Aerial – Using album covers to scare away birds
  17. The Man in the Hut – A neighbor in France who was sent to jail for molesting his wife’s grandchildren
  18. Of Mice and Men – About icebreaker conversations
  19. April in Paris – About interacting with animals and Sedaris’s recollections of a spider
  20. Crybaby – Sedaris sits next to a grieving man in an airplane.
  21. Old Faithful – Hugh lances a boil on Sedaris’s backside
  22. The Smoking Section – Sedaris tries to quit smoking in Japan


  1. ^ Mancoff, Debra N. “Early Paintings by Vincent van Gogh.” 28 August 2007. HowStuffWorks.com.
Preceded by
What Happened
by Scott McClellan
#1 New York Times Best Seller Non-Fiction
June 22, 2008 – July 27, 2008
Succeeded by
The Obama Nation
by Jerome Corsi

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article When You Are Engulfed In Flames, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.