When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

May 20th, 2008 at 7:26 am

Just as I put down a recent New Yorker containing a typically Sedarisian (funny, entertaining, whimsical) essay about smoking, I come to learn that his new collection of essays, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, culminates in an essay about him quitting smoking.

Writers come from a long lineage of destructive behavior, cigarette smoking being the most necessary of props for a tormented life of professional scribbling. So why should Sedaris give up now? It seems to be a bit of a literary betrayal.

John SteinbeckHunter S. ThompsonDavid Sedaris

Was it in the movie The Freshman that a professor forced his creative writing students to smoke as they wrote? Because that’s how writers do it, right?

But beyond David’s title waffling and contradictory quitting, what is most peculiar is that the cover of When You Are Engulfed in Flames appears to be a skeleton smoking a joint:

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Has David Sedaris forgone nicotine and tobacco in favor of the harder stuff?

With smoking being such an integral fixture of a writer’s image, shouldn’t he just have upgraded to a Gamucci?

With cigarette smoking clearly on its way of alchemy, who are some of the most legendary smoking writers? Who looks the coolest?

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