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St. Burl's Obituary Paperback – February 15, 1997

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

PW gave a starred review to this comic story of an erudite epicure on a desperate diet.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Burl Bennett is an overweight obituary writer for a New York paper who stumbles into the aftermath of a mob killing in the restaurant he co-owns with an uncle. Eventually, intimidated by threats against his life, Burl leaves New York and heads out West on a bizarre odyssey. He winds up in Salt Lake City, where his weight continues to increase, until he literally gets stuck in the door of his hotel room. Burl has various adventures as his girth expands and contracts along with his economic status, and he explores every nuance of his own identity and what it means to be fat in contemporary America. The story comes full circle when Burl, having assumed someone else's identity, returns to New York, where he finally faces the issue of who he really is. Akst (Wonder Boy: Barry Minkow?the Kid Who Swindeled Wall Street, Scribner, 1990. o.p.) offers an amusing story; he writes lovingly about food, but Burl is by turns an engaging and repulsive hero. It's hard to predict what kind of audience this quirky novel will attract. Recommended for large fiction collections.?Dean James, Houston Acad. of Medicine/Texas Med. Ctr. Lib.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest American Writing
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (February 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015600514X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156005142
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,978,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Daniel Akst is a writer whose columns, essays and reviews have appeared in a variety of publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Wilson Quarterly, Slate, Metropolis and many others. He's also the author of two novels and two nonfiction books. He works as an editorial writer at Newsday, on Long Island, where he also writes a weekly column that is distributed by the McClatchy-Tribune news service. For more information, visit www.akst.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I've read this book several times and with each rereading find more to admire. It's rare to find a work that is at once original, erudite and unceasingly entertaining. It succeeds on several levels -- as a contemporary allegory, as a character study of the intelligent, funny and tormented-by-his-bulk Burl, and as a rollicking great yarn. Burl's enormous appetite is a terrific metaphor of our consumer society; his journeys through a hilariously gothic America and his virtual death and resurrection are the stuff of great literature.
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Format: Paperback
This novel entertained me for as long as I could make the reading last. Please call Joel & Ethan Cohen and have them make a moovie of Burl.
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Format: Paperback
Dan Akst sure is one of the brightest authors I've ever come across. Just to start with that statement. I guess one would have to read that marvel of a novel over and over again, just to discover all the literary cross-references he has embedded with such great subtlety. I've read it twice, and I'm sure that there's still loads of hidden treasures. An excessive, a disturbing and a brilliantly talented book. Phew. If we only had writers like that over here.
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Format: Paperback
I selected this book from the library shelf based on its intriguing cover. I read the first couple of pages right there, and was hooked. This is one of those rare books I shall remember all my life, as Burl was so real, quirky, and loveable, and his life and views so fascinating that I was sorry to finish and say goodbye to a new-found friend. Daniel Akst's language is a joy to read, his erudition impressive, and his wit absolutely beguiling.
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Format: Paperback
This was a great book. The reviewer 'Gluttony and Tedium' must have read a different book from what i read. I'd love to have dinner with Burl(before his obese-demise), just to share the joy of taste. This book is as good as the movie "The Big Night"--the transforming power of food, both good and bad is profound.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I started reading this book a few days ago, a chapter or section at a time but had to finally sit down today and read it cover to cover in one sitting. Once you get past the first few chapters, you won't want to put it down and leave Burl stranded anywhere along his journey. If you loved A Confederacy of Dunces, you will find this book most satisfying. The characters are all richly drawn, the language as full and tantalizing as Burl's feasts. This book is a feast of language and image that will leave you thinking about it for a long time to come. I suggest you buy a copy now while they are still available.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My first reading of this book was in the late 90s. Rereading books can be a disappointment and it is with great joy to discover that Burl's odyssey is as compelling, thought provoking and funny the second time around. The writing is a delight. As for Burl, one wishes to reach through the pages, pull him out, hug him and cook him a lovely meal. I hope that others will discover this little gem and enjoy it as much as I.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this on a Daily Meal website of the top 10 food books of all time. It is really wonderful and if you're into food, you'll enjoy it totally. Is also a good history of the times and area. Quirky doesn't come close to describing this one! haha, read it to see.
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