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He Died With A Felafel In His Hand

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  2,109 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
Cult shared-housing comedy classic. These hilarious tales of urban terror reveal the dark truth hidden behind three seemingly innocent words – a phrase that you have seen a hundred times before but will never view in the same light again – WANTED TO SHARE. John Birmingham's rendering of a life in share houses will leave you laughing, cringing and reminiscing about your own ...more
Paperback, 214 pages
Published October 6th 1997 by Flamingo (first published 1994)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 29, 2007 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great paragraph:

We all smoked way too much. If you took all the shit we smoked in just one year and rolled it into one big joint, it would be so much bigger than the biggest joint you have ever seen that you would need to smoke two really big joints just to deal with the concept of its incredible bigness.
Kevin Klehr
Sep 07, 2010 Kevin Klehr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this many years ago when John Birmingham wrote it while still writing articles for the Rolling Stone (I think).

It's the embellished account of thirteen share households he actually lived in across major Australian cities during the 1980s. Very funny. It's easy to relate to as you recognise the personality types that you may have met or lived with back in the day.

There was a movie version made of this, but I don't recommend the film. There is no real plot in the book, which makes it a fasc
David Sarkies
May 31, 2015 David Sarkies rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Australians
Recommended to David by: Some American - go figure
Shelves: comedy
Sharehousing in Australia
13 December 2012

John Birmingham wrote so much better when he was writing gonzo journalism rather than the sci-fi books that he seems to have written of late, but then again he seems to sell books, and the books that he did write early on pretty much set him up to the point where he could pretty much write what he wanted to, so I guess more power to him. Anyway, while I do not know what the experience of share housing is in England (and I understand that there is a lot o
Jul 31, 2011 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is hilarious, laugh out loud funny. I used to read this while on my way to work on the tram and got some very strange looks from my fellow passengers because of my laughter. It's ok, they probably just thought I was one of those mental cases. John Birmingham has lived with such people, and here he tells us about them. We have stories about housemates who come home drunk and piss in the fridge, housemates who get into screaming arguments over which cupboard shelf the can of pineapple ch ...more
Mark Farley
Jun 17, 2016 Mark Farley rated it liked it
I've been in the fortunate position for most of my life not to have dealt with anything like the flat/housemate problems and eccentricities in 'He Died with a Falafel in His Hand', having always lived with some sort of female partner since my very early 20s. That was until a year ago, when I moved back to Brighton, on the south coast of England and moved into a shared flat (sight unseen, as I had moved the length of the country specially) with well, I shan't name her. Let's just call her 'misera ...more
Little Miss Esoteric
'He Died With A Felafel In His Hand' is hilarious, and so spot on. As an art school student, I lived and slept in various group houses in Queensland. They were fun years, although a bit hazy. I'm sure I know some of the people in this book, and a great many of the cockroaches...
Oct 12, 2011 Brenda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldnt-finish
I'm afraid I didn't enjoy this book at all. It was loaned to me by my son, he loved it, also his wife. And the many others who have reviewed it positively. But it's just not my sort of story!
May 19, 2015 Cărăşălu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a lot of fun reading this book, jumping from one mad share-house experience to another. It reminded me about dormitory life a little, but more insane. The diversity of characters is amazing, but most of them are episodic. This is what makes the book so easy to read: a lot of short stories, happenings, anecdotes, one after another, one crazy flatmate followed by an even crazier one, no space for pauses of normality. At times, I even felt a little envious of the author.

Anyway, it's not as go
Mar 13, 2015 Dot rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Yuk. Disgusting stories of random bogans behaving badly. I couldn't force myself to finish this book (which rarely happens as I like to finish what I start).
Rachel Eldred
I vaguely remember watching the 2001 film ‘He Died With A Felafel In His Hand’, starring Noah Taylor. I say ‘vaguely’ because I was probably stoned at the time, my brain compromised in the memory department. I do remember, however, that it was strange. But, then, I like ‘strange’.

The book is less strange; more nostalgic. It made me laugh, but it also horrified me. I spent part of my 20s lost in the world of share accommodation, and it wasn’t pretty. Most of it was spent under the influence of dr
Ms Tlaskal
Mar 19, 2012 Ms Tlaskal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished 'Leviathon' in January and wanted to check out what else he had written. This is a chronicle of his life in a series of share houses, interspersed with vignettes by people he has lived with. For a clean freak (which I am not) it makes stomach-turning reading; the rats and roaches, the fish finger 'cuisine' and the procession of seemingly pleasant flatmates who become weird once they soak into the unique emotional broth that each house seemed to become. It makes gripping yet queasy rea ...more
Apr 08, 2007 Galindo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of anecdotes about sharing house in Australia. The title refers to the opening story of the narrrator finding his housemate on a bean bag "as cold as the felafel in his hand" from a heroin overdose. I laughed from cover to cover. It is uniquely Australian in its telling and humour. Having said that, I think any person would understand the experience and jocularity.
There are also blurbs from former house mates scattered throughout the book dispensing their wisdom. One of these was a
Amy Wallin
He Died With a Felafel In his Hand, is a collection of tales about share housing in Australia during the 1990’s. A time where you lived atop of a foot of garbage, men slept in tents in your living room, and at any given time expect – quote unquote – “nightclubbing bimbos who used their ankles for earrings.” I’m usually not a fan of non-fiction, and let me tell you why. It’s depressing as shit. I’m sorry, I don’t want to escape the loneliness of my couch to step into the world of a worse couc
Cheryl Anne Gardner
Very funny stuff. Birmingham knows how to turn a phrase.

Anyone who has experience house sharing has a story or two to tell, but these are over the top frightening and hysterical. This is outsider stuff, or as the author aptly named them: The Fringe Dwellers. Sounds like a horror movie, and some of these people are the weirdest monsters you'll ever have the pleasure of not knowing.

A fun and bizarre look at the edge of humanity.
Alejandro V. Betancourt
Birmingham presents us with a hilarious account of his housesharing experience in the 1980s which remains as relevant today as ever.

The book setting is that of young people moving into a household out of sheer necessity - rent is cheap, without having regard to the people that live there. The result is a combination of rather unique and weird characters which in turn provides a insight into of human nature and social interactions. The implicit codes behaviour in the house - what is acceptable, s
Apr 10, 2014 Ellie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ellie by: father
Fairly amusing throughout.

not a read before bed book - as in, I wasn't aware it was an amalgmation of annecdotes rather than a story.

I read this before moving out to Uni - it kind of put me off the transition, but I needn't have worried, things ave moved on a bit since his day.

Maybe a decent bathroom book to read whilst in the bath.
Feb 15, 2016 Shaun rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is definitely not for everyone. It is written in such a way that it can be hard to ever feel invested in any characters or in the overall novel itself. I also definitely feel that where your headspace is in your life will completely change how you enjoy this book.
For me, if I had read this book 15 years ago I would have given it 5 stars, but reading it now I felt that it was slightly too in love with itself and the vaguely connected short story format just kind of annoyed me by the end
Oct 04, 2014 Joel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy, australian
Hilarious and horrifying, Birmingham's account of sharehousing aided in leveling out some of the personal angst and frustration I've had with flatmates. I may never have complete responses to such questions as "Why is there peanut butter in the carpet?", "Why is there packaging from a meat pie box stuck to the wall?", or "Why have my clothes been ripped to shreds?", but I have come away with an increased capacity for handling neurotic behaviour... and most importantly... I'm yet to wake up to a ...more
Funny and recognise a lot of the situations from living in a lot of shared houses. However found the small boxes with little "case stories" in disruptive to reading the main text.
Lloyd Tandy
Dec 02, 2010 Lloyd Tandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funniest book I've ever read. I can't read it in public because I laugh too loudly when I read it, and weird people out.
Sep 26, 2007 Maggie rated it it was amazing
If you've ever had a crazy roommate, you'll probably find them in this book. It's hysterical. Great snippet reading, too.
Panos Dionysopoulos
This book espouses the dangers of vegetarianism and promotes healthy consumption of lamb.
May 02, 2015 Loki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear goth I love this book. Still one of the few things I've ever read that actually is laugh out loud funny. And it's funny, and scary - in a kind of negative nostalgia way - because it's really not that exaggerated. Everyone who's done the shared house thing in this country knows someone who was in this book, or was a friend of friend, etc. Or someone who did something just like it. (My own contribution to these stories tends to revolve around the third story flat in Tattersalls Lane, where we ...more
This book was amusing, but there were so many incidents that I began to doubt the truth of it. I too lived in shared houses for several years and although there were incidents, nothing on the scale of what happened in this book.
I was trying to remember incidents that did happen. Definitely no drugs. But the first group house I lived in – a three bedroom house, but there were up to five people in it at times – would be the closest to those examples in this book. But still nowhere near as wild and
Dec 09, 2012 Yudhit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yudhit by: Liam Prince
This book was a birthday gift from my dearest friend Liam, in his way of introducing Australian culture and society.... The book was intended to make me laugh I guess, but considering it was a non- fiction book which was an actual real story, I could not help myself not to get bitter. Maybe because I am maturing, maybe because I live in eastern society, maybe because I had 2 children which causing me paranoid on my children's future life.... ha..ha..ha

Actually though I grew up as a muslim woman
Anthony Eaton
Dec 06, 2009 Anthony Eaton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Most Australians will be familiar with JB from his various endeavours in many and varied writing fields - blogger, author, columnist and no doubt lot of others. Most Aussies will also be familiar with He Died With a Felafel... from the big screen version of it, starring Noah Taylor (what happened to him, by the way?)

The blurb on my copy reads "John Birmingham has lived with 83 people and kept notes on all of them. This is their story." And he has. And it is. In plot terms, the
Aug 30, 2013 Harry007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This pseudo-memoir does have the appearance of being highly exaggerated, with numerous episodes coming across as fabricated, but then again, why would the author lie when he has so many stories to tell about various people? The book plays out randomly, depicting what life is like within house-sharing arrangements, and these episodes are always bizarre and outrageous and perhaps too good to be true in terms of becoming material for a book. I'm convinced the people written about in this novel are ...more
Jan 07, 2015 Kelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We've all had that *one* roommate, right? John had lots of them! This book is full of entertaining anecdotes about various housemates, including the roommate who inspired the book's title. Before reading the book, I saw the movie that was based off of it. Both are enjoyable in their own right, although neither spoil the enjoyment of the other.
Jun 29, 2016 J rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"John Birmingham writes for Rolling Stone magazine, so you can guess how readable it is. I actually laughed out loud at some of it. It made me all wistful for house-sharing."
Jun 05, 2014 Emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such an entertaining and almost unbelievable collection of stories of share-housing hell. I'd be sceptical in believing some, though, I have heard from friends their first hand experiences with terrible housemates. A lighthearted and quite funny look into the world of house-sharing. Choose your roomies wisely!
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Let's Read Togeth...: Ch. 54 – He Died with a Felafel in His Hand with Max Corbel 1 2 May 10, 2016 09:05PM  
Scarily Hilarious! 4 27 Sep 18, 2011 03:52PM  
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John Birmingham grew up in Ipswich, Queensland and was educated at St Edmunds Christian Brother's College in Ipswich and the University of Queensland in Brisbane. His only stint of full time employment was as a researcher at the Defence Department. After this he returned to Queensland to study law but he did not complete his legal studies, choosing instead to pursue a career as a writer. He curren ...more
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