Sunday, July 20, 2008

July 17 - 20, 2008

When You Are Engulfed in Flames
David Sedaris
2008, hardcover
9 cards

You might think the painting on the cover of David Seadaris's new book is intriguing. (The jacket was designed by the fabulous Chip Kidd.) Perhaps you even looked to see who it was by. That Vincent van Gogh might have painted it as a joke in art school is great. When I've mentioned I was reading this book to people lately, they've mentioned they heard it isn't as good as some of his other books. While maybe the crazy tales of his childhood have been told and stack up differently in terms of a life lived when middle aged, Sedaris's stories still entertain and make note of the minor things in life with acute precision. Living now where I do, references to Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham ring true in new ways. Many of these stories have been published in The New Yorker, but even those still entertain with second reads.

A few selections
3- germs
4- cocktail at a supermarket
9- "every year 5,000 children are startled to death"
10- "No surprises, no practical jokes, nothing unexpected, but a parent can't control everything and there's still the outside world to contend with, a world of backfiring cars and their human equivalents."
15- "I also didn't want to go alone, and this was where our problem started."
21- "...what was a vacation but a chance to be someone different?"
36 Chapel Hill
39- "The idea was that we were different, not like the rest of America..."
40- old-timey, malarkey
46- sweat angel
-"it was hard to live in a college town and not go to college."
48- "Given enough time, I guess anything can look good. All it has to do is survive."
49- "velveteen for everybody"
-"It was only at Halloween that we were allowed to choose our own outfits."
-hobo- "It's a word you don't often hear anymore."
50- "the hobo roughed it by choice"
51- (sweater) "Having been destroyed, it is now indestructible, meaning I can wear it without worry."
-"...if I have one fashion rule, it's this: never change."
52- "What looks good now is guaranteed to embarrass you twenty years down the line, which is, of course, the whole problem with fashion."
61- "It's a pretty sorry world when wearing a bow tie amounts to being 'out there.' I'm just not sure which is worse, the people who consider it out there that someone's wearing a bow tie, or the person who thinks he's out there for wearing it."
62- "Grown or not. I still feel best- more true to myself- when dressed like a hobo."
89- (Chicago) "Never again would I have so many friends, and such good ones, thought I'm not exactly sure why."
107- "her hair, like her face, was the color of old cement."
113- "Never live alone"
135- North Carolina Museum of Art
136- postcards
141- "The idea of matching artwork to decor was, to me, an abomination..."
148- doughnut
152- "the sorts of things that are not for everyone"
153- "It's the things you don't buy that stay with you the longest."
154- (washer and dryer) "they remind me that I'm doing fairly well"
-(skeleton) "You are going to die."
159- "What they do at 6:00 a.m. is anyone's guess."
176- Kate Bush
182- "magpies are constantly searching for a way out"
196- "a single flaming mouse"
213- "Why is it you never see a baby squirrel?"
234- "At a nearby table there's always a couple in their late seventies, holding their menus with trembling, spotted hands..."
243- 4th grade field trip- American Tobacco plant- Durham
244- "My room was clean and orderly, and if I'd had my way it would have smelled like an album jacket the moment you removed the plastic. That is to say, it would have smelled like anticipation."
263- index cards
289- "Japanese is a listener's language. 'What's not being mentioned is usually more important that what is.'"
290- the mass-produced mistakes
293- "But nobody's afraid of moths." "I am."
301- "...and you're not going anywhere until you finish your pickles."
303-(sheet of rules written in Japanese, symbols) "either 'not eating candy hearts' or 'no falling in love.'"

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