David Sedaris

You’ve heard about the problem some people have with David Sedaris and his latest collection, When You Are Engulfed in Flames (Little, Brown, $25.99). Apparently not every word and incident in his nonfiction, much of it previously published in The New Yorker, is 100 percent true. He may have embellished, augmented, taken liberties. The backlash hasn’t reached the level of, say, James Frey’s televised scolding from Oprah, but still. Where is the outrage? I don’t think it’s coming. Sedaris is an artist of solipsism. Even when he’s writing about other things--quitting smoking, his boyfriend Hugh, his crazy French neighbors, hitchhiking as a teenager--he’s writing about himself. I don’t think we ever understood or enjoyed him any other way. Sure, his recollections of childhood family vacations--with sister Amy Sedaris along for the ride--are probably gauzed by memory, but he’s never sold himself as the possessor of an Important Life With Significant Things to Say About the World. I doubt he cares about the world, and I’ve always found him funny in that his personal essays are so unapologetically narrow. A liar like Frey thinks his (confabulated) life sorrows mean something, when in truth he was only after the money and fame. Sedaris has never put himself on such a pedestal, so where’s the fun in knocking him off? Note: Both these events are ticketed to capacity, though Sedaris’ remarks will be amplified throughout the stores. So squeeze in if you can. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, www.elliottbaybook.com. Free. 7:30 p.m. (Also: Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., 366-3333, www.thirdplacebooks.com. Free. 7 p.m. Tues., June 24.) BRIAN MILLER

Mon., June 23, 7:30 p.m., 2008

 
comments powered by Disqus