In the New Haven Advocate, reporter Brianna Snyder chats with David Sedaris about the Van Gogh painting featured on the cover of his new collection of essays, When You Are Engulfed in Flames. “I just put it in my living room and I walk by and I look at it every now and then and I think, ‘Oh that’s interesting.’ I try to pretend that I didn’t know what was on my book cover. And I try to imagine what it might look like if I didn’t already know what it looked like—you know what I mean? If I walked into someone’s house and saw that lying on a coffee table, what would I think?…I knew a year ago that I had to turn the book in but I didn’t know what the cover was going to look like. Although, I’ve had that post card for, I don’t know, a couple years.
Where did you get it?Amsterdam. It’s a Van Gogh painting from, I think, the Van Gogh museum. I don’t go to museums, I just go to museum gift shops. If someone said to me, ‘Oh that’s a Van Gogh painting on the cover,’ I’d go, ‘Yeeesh,’ [laughs] but I think that’s like a really good Van Gogh painting. I just found out army bases don’t want to carry the book because they think the skeleton’s smoking a joint. So the publisher had to call them and explain that the painting was done in like 18-something and that they didn’t have joints then—it’s a hand-rolled cigarette. But that’s pretty silly to me. Soldiers, American soldiers…you don’t want to tempt them with a joint. You also don’t see books with black covers too often. Well, the Bible. …And I think it looks really good—all that black on the cover.” Read more.
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