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Dave Barry Turns 50 Paperback – August 31, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Many bad things happen when you turn 50. You can't see; you can't hear; you can read the entire Oxford English Dictionary in the time it takes you to go to the bathroom; and you keep meeting people your own age who look like Grandpa Walton (and those are the women)." Yep, Dave Barry is getting old, and the King of Humor may soon become the King Lear of Humor, but fear not, because Dave is not going quietly. Dave Barry Turns 50 is Barry at his best, mainly because it succeeds in being more than simply a collection of his newspaper columns. He examines the development of the baby boomer, from youth in the '50s ("an age so innocent that there could be a TV show featuring a main character called 'The Beaver'") to maturity in the '70s ("We ... basked in the reflected glory of Woodward and Bernstein: we were inspired by them; we kept a sharp eye out for any hint of corruption in the way our local school board purchased clarinets for the marching band"), before providing a self-help guide for those entering their second half century.

Barry could squeeze laughs out of a prostate exam (eventually he may have to, although the cover of this book proudly states that he refuses to even mention the word prostate), and Dave Barry Turns 50 provides him with ample opportunities to demonstrate the agile wit that has endeared him to millions of fans. Even in the final chapters, when he faces the inevitability of death, he manages to keep chuckling--after all, he is only 50, and this, he points out, "...is our glory time, this last decade or so before our powers decline and we start showing up for work with our pants on backwards." Let's hope that we'll be around for Dave Barry Turns 90. --Simon Leake --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Barry claims, "Many bad things happen when you turn 50. You can't see; you can't hear; you can read the entire Oxford English Dictionary in the time it takes you to go to the bathroom; and you keep meeting people your own age who look like Grandpa Walton." Even so, in this follow-up to his bestselling Dave Barry Turns 40, he decided not to dwell "on the negative aspects of turning 50" and instead offers a "celebration of the aging process" by examining significant baby-boomer accomplishments ("The New Age movement! Call waiting!"). Barry begins with boomer origins in the late 1940s, a time when record players "were closer in design and sound quality to washing machines." Each subsequent decade gets a full chapter as Barry waxes nostalgic while shuffling down pathways of the past to examine an assortment of arcane artifacts and "actual facts," largely gleaned from Rita Lang Kleinfelder's 750-page When We Were Young: A Baby-Boomer Yearbook. Barry ends each chapter with "Discussion Questions" ("Did you inhale? Explain."), and maintains mirth right to the closing pages (retirement plans, death options). However, it's the look back at TV commercials, politics, inventions and attitudes that really makes those who have seen it all (much of "it" through trifocals) chortle out loud. It's not unlike an archeological dig through an attic, choking from laughter rather than dust, as familiar and forgotten memories are refreshed and taken for a satirical synaptic spin by a master humorist. 13-city birthday tour. (Oct.) FYI: Appropriately enough, this title is also available as a Random House audio ($18 ISBN 0-375-40428-7) and in a large-print edition ($22
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 31, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345431693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345431691
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The New York Times has pronounced Dave Barry "the funniest man in America." But of course that could have been on a slow news day when there wasn't much else fit to print. True, his bestselling collections of columns are legendary, but it is his wholly original books that reveal him as an American icon. Dave Barry Slept Here was his version of American history. Dave Barry Does Japan was a contribution to international peace and understanding from which Japan has not yet fully recovered. Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys is among the best-read volumes in rehab centers and prisons. Raised in a suburb of New York, educated in a suburb of Philadelphia, he lives now in a suburb of Miami. He is not, as he often puts it so poetically, making this up.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ramon Kranzkuper on August 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
OK - are you a Dave Barry fan, or is this going to be your first Dave Barry book? If you like Dave, this is another of his never-ending series of incredibly funny books. You'll get a copy, of course, and it will be one of the funniest books you've ever read, of course, since no one else (except James Lileks) is even remotely as funny as Dave Barry is. Like someone else said here, even if this one isn't his funniest, it's funnier than almost any other 'funny book' you'll read.
I'm not kidding when I tell you that I stopped carrying Dave Barry books to read on flights. It's not possible to laugh under your breath three times a minute, and I've noticed that people tend to stare if you laugh out loud three times a minute, for an hour or more.
If you're not a Dave Barry fan already - this one won't be the best place to start if you want to decide whether to join the Dave Barry club or not. Read "Dave Barry's greatest hits", or the travel one (can't remember the name).
After having read all of Dave's books, I must conclude that there is something fundamentally wrong with people who don't find him funny ... just kidding! But honestly, Dave's is a brand of humor that appeals to a surprisingly large variety of people; and this one (DB turns 50) is typical Dave.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By New Jersey Mom on February 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book consisted of three different parts, stapled together. First we have Dave's reflections on turning 50, which are, frankly, a little morbid and not that funny. (Some of these appear at the beginning and some at the end of the book). Then we have the "year-by-year" review of his life and the world around him starting from his birth (1947) to 1974 when he more or less lost interest. Problem here is that some fairly awful things happened in those years and he knows he can't make jokes about them, so he mixes his humor with moral righteousness so that you know the HE was against the war (although he doesn't seem to have done much about it except get CO status for which it's fairly clear he didn't really qualify). The juxtaposition of jokes with the tone of moral outrage doesn't go that well. And finally he has a few very funny, typically Barry, obviously stand-alone type pieces on things like how to get your kid into college. But here's what I really want to know --- I only have a few Barry books but they all mention his wife, Beth. Now his wife, as per the dedication, appears to be "Michelle" and seems to be a lot younger than he is. Did Dave make a mid-life switch? And how can he poke fun at all the other late-middle-aged peccadillos and not mention this most-stereotyped one of his own?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Book Knurd on May 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Dave Barry Turns 50 is less about turning 50 than it is a humorous recounting of growing up a Baby Boomer.

Barry chronicles all the major events, fads, trends and people who impacted the life of a typical boomer. Along the way Barry unleashes heavy doses of his wildly funny wit, recurring punch lines and he even throws in a bit of social and political commentary to boot.

If you're a Barry fan or an aging boomer then this book won't disappoint. Plenty of Barry humor to chuckle at and lots of references to stuff and events to which every boomer can relate.

However, if you're new to Barry's world then I suggest you start with one of his other works - Dave Barry Slept Here for example. It similar to Turns 50 in the way it's constructed and written, but the humor is turned up to high and the commentary is turned completely off (except when used to poke fun at something).

Though Turns 50 goes back to the fence...it's not a quite a home run.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "deeodell1" on April 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
My husband bought this book because I was always berating him about reading Barrons and the Wall Street Journal on our vacations. He read this book by the pool, before bed, at the beach, everywhere. He never wanted to put it down... He laughed out loud on almost every page. He would read paragraphs to me and start laughing so hard he would be crying...
I think the reason he really likes this book is because Dave Barry is one year older than he is. He, also, is accused of looking younger than he really is... No one believes he is over 50 until he starts talking about Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody--just like Dave does... He managed to get in the National Guard to get out of Vietnam and was very impressed with Dave's CO status. Jim had to get an ulcer to get out all together.
I am so glad there is another guy out there that my husband can relate to. He is hanging out with too many young people now (like me.) He had to explain who Captain Video was to me. His first memory was begging his mother for a Captain Video helmet. Once he got it, he turned on the TV show and ran around in cirlces with the helmet on his head...(???)
I am so happy Dave made my husband's trip so enjoyable. I promise I will read it myself to gain insight into his psyche. (Even though he has read over 3/4 of it aloud to me already.)
Because of this book, I now know what to get him for Father's Day: the Collected Works of Dave Barry. I hope it comes in a boxed set suitable for giftwrapping.
PS We used to get Dave in our newspaper (and my husband used to cut out the articles and send them to his friends....) but now that we live in Connecticut, we don't get his column in our Stamford Advocate (or the New York Times.) If his publicist is reading this, please see if we can get his column in the New York Times... Thank you...
Dee Bragg deebragg@yahoo.com
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