With all the debate over the authenticity of memoirs, it’s no wonder that David Sedaris included an author’s note to his latest collection of humorous essays. “The events described in these stories are realish,” he writes, his trademark dry wit fully intact.

In When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Sedaris again leaves nothing to the imagination. Whereas his supposedly dysfunctional family tends to be more normal than most, it’s the foul-mouthed cab drivers, schizophrenic construction workers and human skeleton salesmen which make for far more interesting material.

In “That’s Amore,” we’re introduced to Helen, an elderly Sicilian woman who boasts of her friendship with the infamous New York crime boss John Gotti (she rubbed shoulders with him once at a party), yet threatens to fist fight Sedaris if he again mentions his distant connection to Oprah.

In the world of David Sedaris, eccentrics like Helen are a plenty. Much like flies, they pop in and out of the author’s life until he duly swats them away. His characters may not be real, but they’re certainly “realish.”

Grade: B+

When You are Engulfed in Flames is currently available.