Tuesday, June 24, 2008

When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Finale

I finished David Sedaris' latest last night. He ended the book with a longer piece about quitting smoking. Sedaris started smoking when he was 20 years old and over the years, smoking has become harder and harder to do, with restaurants, hotels and sometimes whole states banning the practice. When he found himself staying in worse and worse dumps of hotels just so he could smoke in his room - well, that definitely helped him quit.

Sedaris read that to rid yourself of a habit, it helps to shake up your routine. So, in the extreme sense of the phrase, he and Hugh went to Japan for three months. (In the end, he writes that quitting smoking cost him $20,000.) I enjoyed his stories about Japan. He took language classes and, in true Sedaris form, sucked at them. (I laughed so hard when he said his favorite fellow student was the young girl who was dumber than he was. When she surpassed him in skills, he hated her.) It was interesting to hear how polite the Japanese are to each other. They don't litter, vandalize, lock their bikes, etc. One mom even put a towel under her child's feet when he wanted to stand on the train seat to see out the window, and the cleaned his fingerprints off the glass before exiting the train. Seriously? In comparison, we're a bunch of rude, loud, obnoxious, littering vandals. We could learn a little something from the Japanese, and I don't doubt several other cultures as well.

I enjoyed the book very much. It wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny as Me Talk Pretty One Day, however there were plenty of times the other passengers on the bus heard me laugh.


willikat said...

william said when he was in japan, the subways stunk at night because people work so hard there, they also play hard at happy hour--and wontonly puke on the subway. so they aren't maybe QUITE as fastidious as Sedaris led his readers to believe ;) ask him about it sometime.... xoxo

Charley said...

I just finished this book as well. I agree, not as funny as some of his others, but I still laughed quite a bit. His unspoken competition with Sang Lee was pretty hilarious. My favorite story of the book was "It's Catching."