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Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays [Paperback]

David Sedaris
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1, 1995 Barrel Fever (Book 1)
In David Sedaris's world, no one is safe and no cow is sacred. Sedaris's collection of essays and stories is a rollicking tour through the national Zeitgeist: a do-it-yourself suburban dad saves money by performing home surgery; a man who is loved too much flees the heavyweight champion of the world; a teenage suicide tries to incite a lynch mob at her funeral; a bitter Santa abuses the elves. With a perfect eye and a voice infused with as much empathy as wit, Sedaris writes stories and essays that target the soulful ridiculousness of our behavior. Barrel Fever is like a blind date with modern life, and anything can happen.

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A collection of stories and essays by humorist and NPR commentator David Sedaris based upon his own experiences and the hidden perversity that can be found in Anytown, U.S.A. Here are images and blasphemies that nice people don't dare look at--blatantly exposed and told with the clear, casual voice of intimate knowledge. Sedaris' humor is born of compassion and his tales range from the sharing of cheery Christmas letters featuring infanticide, to experiences of the Gay and Famous (Charlton Heston and Elizabeth Dole, for example), to the lives of siblings named Hope, Faith, Charity and Adolph and to alcoholics and chain smokers you can laugh with.

From Publishers Weekly

'Morning Edition' commentator Sedaris presents a satirical collection of stories about contemporary American society.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Series: Barrel Fever (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (June 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316779423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316779425
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, David Sedaris has become one of America 's pre-eminent humor writers. The great skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness proves that Sedaris is a master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today.David Sedaris is the author of the bestsellers Barrel Fever and Holidays on Ice, as well as collections of personal essays, Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, each of which became immediate bestsellers. There are a total of seven million copies of his books in print and they have been translated into 25 languages. He is the editor of an anthology of stories, , Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules: An Anthology of Outstanding Stories. His essays appear regularly in Esquire and The New Yorker. Sedaris and his sister, Amy Sedaris, have collaborated under the name "The Talent Family" and have written several plays which have been produced at La Mama, Lincoln Center , and The Drama Department in New York City . These plays include Stump the Host, Stitches, One Woman Shoe, which received an Obie Award, Incident at Cobbler's Knob, and The Book of Liz, which was published in book form by Dramatist's Play Service. His recent collection of essays, titled When You Are Engulfed in Flames, was published in June 2008.David Sedaris's original radio pieces can often be heard on This American Life, distributed nationally by Public Radio International and produced by WBEZ. In 2001, David Sedaris became the third recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He was named by Time magazine as "Humorist of the Year" in 2001. David Sedaris was nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album ("Dress Your Family in Corduroy & Denim") and Best Comedy Album ("David Sedaris: Live at Carnegie Hall"). In 2008 the audio version of When You Are Engulfed in Flames was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Spoken Word category.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great collection July 28, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I first saw David Sedaris on a late night talk show and thought the story he read was hilarious. It was an excerpt from "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and the next day I went to the library and got it. I read through it in a day, laughing out loud for the better part of the book. I bought "Barrel Fever" and began to read. I must say that I thought the book was extremely funny, but not as funny as "Me Talk...". Not because Sedaris did a bad job, but because I have a preference for essays while the majority of this book is short stories. That being said, it is still a great book. Its probably not for those that don't have a dark or twisted sense of humor. If your idea of hilarity is "Family Circus" then you probably won't enjoy the book. However, if you like witty and humorous stories about alcoholics and dysfunctional families, you will like this. I showed one of my favorite parts to a friend and she replied that I have "one sick sense of humor" but she was laughing right along with me. And so if that description could apply to you, I highly recommend this book.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars David Sedaris: The Early Years October 7, 2006
Format:Paperback
Barrel Fever

It's probably best to read Barrel Fever AFTER you have read all of Sedaris' other works. As other 3-star reviewers note, Sedaris' more recent collections are far funnier and better crafted and stylized. If you pick up Barrel Fever and have not read Me Talk Pretty One Day, you may get the false impression that Sedaris is a so-so writer whose is variably funny and witty. I prefer to look at Barrel Fever as an early photograph of what Sedaris would eventually fully develop and polish.

Many of the stories/essays in this collection are too short to give more than a cursory glance at their subjects. When you finally get to the last work, SantaLand Diaries, you feel like Sedaris has finally reached you as a reader, and you (hopefully) will forgive the previous missteps and awkward experiments in style. Barrel Fever has plenty of funny moments, but it is simply not nearly as mature as Sedaris' later books.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb July 12, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
I once saw a very ordinary, unassuming,seemingly meek fellow appear as a guest on David Letterman. I stopped to listen to this mild-mannered gentleman for a few minutes only to find myself laughing harder and louder than I can remember in recent history. I predict I will own a copy of every book this man ever writes. In this troubled world, we all need to laugh as much as we need to eat, and Sedaris provides a banquet. He is truly gifted beyond words.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Same David Sedaris I know & love... March 2, 2001
Format:Paperback
I am amazed at other reviews here that SLAM this collection of stories but praise his others...some reviewers complain about the mixing of fiction with non-fiction essays, etc.
I can only read such reviews in disbelief and ask myself "are we reading the same author here?"; To me, this is vintage David Sedaris...he's just as darkly funny here as he is in _Me Talk Pretty One Day_, his latest work, which I've also read. I just finished the abridged Audio version of _BARREL FEVER_ and found it just as enjoyable as his other works...all new material I'd never heard before, etc.
I can't for the life of me understand why anyone would object to the mingling of fiction & non-fiction here...David's autobiographical non-fiction is so completely weird and surreal it might as well be fiction...one hardly notices the difference.
David Sedaris is not for the faint hearted. He IS funny, but he is also gritty, brutally realistic, sardonic and unsentimental. Only his sister Amy, who now has her own bizzare show on Comedy Central (_Strangers with Candy_) is probably more "out there" than David. I love their collaborative work on these audiobook versions of his stories...including her contributions on this audiobook,_Barrel Fever_.
Sedaris' delivery is so deadpan and straightforward that you begin to believe even the most outrageous of his fictional stories MUST have autobiographical sources...of course people will stare at you if you're listening to this audiobook on a portable walkman and suddenly laugh out loud. The point is, those people would STILL stare at you if they actually HEAR what you are laughing AT. That's Sedaris' genius, in an nutshell.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hysterical May 6, 2000
Format:Audio Cassette
This is one of the funniest books I've ever read. The best part is the essay "Santaland Diaries," about Sedaris' experience as an elf at Macy's. I read it out loud to my mother in the car and we couldn't stop laughing. The short stories are excellent too, especially "The Last You'll Hear from Me." If you like this, you should also read "Naked," Sedaris' memoir; it's even better.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a twisted character! August 26, 2002
Format:Audio CD
I had to give this a 5 star review because Sedaris makes me laugh out loud. Everyone will think you're a nut while you're reading this because you will be unable to stifle your snickers. His character is so twisted that I can't believe he's talking about himself! I refuse to swallow that those stories are even half-way true. Not all of the stories are funny but there are plenty of laughs in this book. I'll read anything he wants to write!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great intro to a talented writer April 30, 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I admit that I first read Naked and Me Talk Pretty before I picked up this collection of Sedaris' early stories and essays. Since Naked and Me Talk Pretty were written in the first person like a warped memoir from Sedaris' life, and were at times more designed to create laughter than to savage human nature, it took a few chapters for me to adapt to Sedaris taking on the voice of various crackpots and losers rather than himself.
Sedaris' stuff that is displayed in Barrel Fever takes a sharper aim at the shallowness, self-importance and bitterness contained in his characters than Naked and Me Talk Pretty, but the sidesplitting humor in his later works only rears its head from time to time in Barrel Fever, most notably during the near-legendary "SantaLand Diaries" story.
Sedaris is a talented writer who lets his characters grind an axe or two now and then.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Sedaris collection
"SantaLand Diaries" is the most famous essay to come out of this collection and the one most mentioned in these Amazon reviews, but only one of four essays and 12 stories that make... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Sam-I-Am
2.0 out of 5 stars Read SantaLand Diaries, ignore the rest.
I'm actually surprised I read this whole thing. From the opening stories I felt as though this was nothing more than an amateur author testing his skills, attempting to find his... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Adam Oster
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Sedaris
I have enjoyed all of David Sedaris's books and this one did not disappoint.
Published 3 months ago by Moonbeam
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny
So funny I enjoy David Sedaris. His books are funny and easy to read if you want a light read that will make you laugh.
Published 3 months ago by Dot
1.0 out of 5 stars Over rated.....
I prefer to hear tid bits of his readings on NPR versus reading a book of his rants.....I read the thing and kept waiting for the good parts (Which in my opinion were few). Read more
Published 4 months ago by Joseph Young
5.0 out of 5 stars gift
my daughter loves this author I am very pleased with its condition, my daughter loved her gift and will shop for more
Published 5 months ago by tishup
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy This Book!
David Sedaris is one of the greatest contemporary writers I have read. His short stories are hilarious whether they are true or fiction. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Eric
4.0 out of 5 stars Sedaris got pretty heavy with this one
Pretty realistic, the vulgar classes in this one. More disgusting than humerous. I'm really a Sedaris fan, but this is my least favorite of his books. Word, word, word, word.
Published 7 months ago by CRB
5.0 out of 5 stars David Sedaris
Love it! His work is brilliant. A reasonable price. Very happy with the CD version, I have the book in print.
Published 7 months ago by Jane
1.0 out of 5 stars Hate it
Don't bother slow moving; all about irrelevant crap. Who wrote this and why? Not interesting a complete waste of time
Published 10 months ago by Mireya
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