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He Died With a Felafel in His Hand Paperback – May 15, 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'This is the grunge version of Melrose - the characters move speedily from one bed to another in Birmingham's share-house hell...Not recommended for landlords', Kathy Bil, Editor, Rolling Stone 'You'll read it with horrified amusement and, if you've ever shared a flat, the occasional wince of recollection', Terry Pratchett --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Duffy & Snellgrove; Reprint edition (May 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1875989218
  • ISBN-13: 978-1875989218
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #748,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I picked up this hilarious book while travelling in Australia and it made a truly wonderful literary companion to the trip. Birmingham's comically detailed and slightly skewed vignettes from his days as a "flatmate" are a riot to read regardless of their basis in fiction. The book begins with a story of a mysterious drug addict flatmate that was found dead with a falafel in hand and it just gets funnier from there. Birmingham's tone and joie de vivre makes for an enjoyable read. Because of the nature of the vignettes, reading this book in small doses is a great way to pass the time while waiting for the plane, or bus, or ferry, or just killing time between adventures. If you've ever lived with someone that was a less than desirable roomate/flatmate, you will undoubtedly enjoy Birmingham's twisted experiences and witty prose.
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Format: Paperback
This book is somewhat astounding... I found it a few years ago in the non-fiction section of our local library, and I thought it was wonderful! It's not a novel, but it's writing style is a lot like one!
With a funny spin on life and emphasizing immense differences between people, John Birmingham details his share house experiences from right across Australia, with tales about the lives of other individuals. And the people he talks about are certainly individuals, with lives that are so different to what you thought was normal...
A lot of people would find this strange, but my teacher got our class to read an exerpt of this book as part of our year 9 classwork! It's a very honest look at group houses, I think is what she told us. This was about the same time that the movie came out, a couple of years ago.
Written with flair and in such a way that each paragraph could be a new chapter, this book fascinates, and finds a new perspective for an everyday part of life for young people across Australia. Hilarious, and I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel (actually I read this a while ago and haven't been bothered to look much... but I am VERY keen to find the The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco, and writing this review has reminded me how keen!)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has quite a reputation as a modern day classic of Australian literature but I found it tedious, in fact it took me months to finish it.

You might know someone that has an endless series of stories. It's fine if the stories are entertaining and told well; if you see that person occasionally and if the stories don't go on for too long. In this case the stories are about weird house mates and filthy homes and there's a whole book full of them.

There is no plot as endless characters come and go and the author moves from one disgusting house to another. Neither the homes nor characters are memorable and nothing happens in the entire book - well someone dies. We're never really sure which city he's living in or what he's doing for work. At the close of one chapter he decides to leave for London but the reader is left confused as in the next chapter he doesn't seem to be in London at all. Birmingham mentions his band in passing and we only get a few hints of this later on.

If these stories formed a story arc or we saw some sort of character development there might be a point. Or maybe some insight into that part of society back then. But all we have is an huge cast of people we don't care about and who did nothing of interest. We get practically no insight into these people and their lives.

Only in the last couple of pages does Birmingham try to summarise or put things into perspective, and then it's only that he's fed up and he's decided to sort himself out and get on with life.
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Format: Paperback
Its been 10 years since this book was first written and for the people who read this book when it first come out (like myself) it feels like a very quick 10 years. To me I was flatting among the "chaos" documented in this book and while never anywhere near as bad, most of this book feels like it could have happened in a parallel universe somewhere.

The style is very easy to read and random in its structure - the laughs and the acute observations are on every page, making it the type of book you can flip into randomly and find a description or passage to make you laugh out loud.

There is no main plot as such and most characters are only around for a few pages. If anything you could say the book is about growing up and a celebration of that stage of peoples life where you only depend on your self and you are carefree enough to indulge in a dirty jeans wearing competition or throw parties which are spoken about for decades. But to put themes on a book like this is really over analysing what is really just a good read and full of laughs.

For fans of this book there is a 10 year anniversary illustrated by cartoonist Ryan Vella now available (not yet on Amazon) which is well worth a look. The imagery is dark, gross, amusing, gothic, disturbing - all taking nothing away from the original reading. Being a comic book it can't fit so much in, but he does get the best parts, be warned though that the sequence with the crazy flatmate "Nena" in the bath is especially unsettling.

The big question for me in this book is "How much of it is true ?". In interviews with the man himself he said that 99% of it was based at least partially factual. Whether this means it all happened to him or parts of it are based on storied of a friend of a friend and with a bit of artistic license added, I guess only the author and a few friends will ever know.
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