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Comment: This item is in good condition. All pages and covers are readable. There are no stains or tears. Dust jacket is present if applicable. May contain small amounts of writing and/or highlighting. Spine and cover may show signs of wear. May not contain supplementary items. We ship within 1 business day. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
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Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays Paperback – June 1, 1995

3.7 out of 5 stars 194 customer reviews

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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.
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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: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 28, 2001
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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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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By A Customer on 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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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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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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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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