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Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  44,430 Ratings  ·  1,457 Reviews
In David Sedaris’s world, no one is safe and no cow is sacred. A manic cross between Mark Leyner, Fran Lebowitz, and the National Enquirer, Sedaris’s collection of essays is a rollicking tour through the national Zeitgeist: a do-it-yourself suburban dad saves money by performing home surgery; a man who is loved too much flees the heavyweight champion of the world; a teenag ...more
Paperback, 196 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by Back Bay Books (first published June 1st 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Minnie Romanovich
Jun 12, 2007 Minnie Romanovich rated it did not like it
Another "bestseller" from the humorist; I bought this in blind faith only because it was a Sedaris. However, I admit I was a tad disappointed. In some of the essays, it felt like he was trying too hard to be funny; the stories seemed to lack the punch found in "Naked," "Me Talk Pretty One Day," or "Holidays on Ice."

If you must read this, borrow it from a library or buy it used. It works well as a paper-weight.
Anthony Chavez
May 21, 2012 Anthony Chavez rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
When I purchased this at Beer's Books in Sacramento I had no idea it was Sedaris' debut book, I just knew that he was a hilarious guy and the cover just made me laugh, I loved it and had to buy it.

I sort of went in with high hopes, a few people I know had recently seen him live and said he was great. "Barrel Fever" is a collection of short stories and essays, and for a debut collection it was not bad. None of the stories are bad, but they're not amazingly great either; however, I found the four
Apr 26, 2008 Andrea rated it did not like it
Shelves: audio-style
I loved Me Talk Pretty One Day, but Barrel Fever was painful. The audiobook is read by the author with a few vocal appearances from his sister, Amy Sedaris.... I guess I was just expecting more from them than a tangled mess of sub par short stories - all of which seem to feature the same narcissistic, celebrity obsessed, accident prone, substance abusing, deadbeat narrator who happens to be gay. It's like a terrible version of Curb Your which the narrator is plugged into ...more
E' il secondo che leggo, di suo, e credo che Sedaris si meriti un posto tra gli autori da seguire con più attenzione.
E' umorismo americano ben fatto e soprattutto ha la capacità di passare da uno stile all'altro, da uno stereotipo o un linguaggio a un altro, mantenendo una buona qualità del racconto.
Ripeto quanto già detto altrove: trovo che negli ultimi anni ci sia stata una bulimia editoriale. Non basta un libro, deve uscire la trilogia. Non bastano 100 pagine, bisogna infarcirle di aggettivi
Mar 07, 2013 Ginny_1807 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sedaris non è uno scrittore umoristico nel senso più stretto della definizione e chi si rapportasse ai suoi libri animato da simili aspettative resterebbe senz’altro deluso.
Infatti le storie che racconta sono spesso spaccati di vita quotidiana, esperienze vissute o del tutto inventate che non hanno nulla di eccezionale o di insolito, tranne il modo in cui vengono presentate. È il suo tratto scarno, incisivo e graffiante nel caratterizzare i fatti e i personaggi a risultare umoristico, ma di un
Dec 17, 2012 J.I. added it
Shelves: read-2008
Definitely Sedaris' worst book. The stories are occasionally interesting and hilarious, but are, more often than not, half baked ideas with a little bit of angst-ridden humor that just doesn't work for the most part. The essays, on the other hand, are were Sedaris succeeds. He is funny and captivating and insightful. The way that Sedaris sees life is staggeringly original and thought provoking and it's no wonder his later books have been so popular and sold so well. It is a shame that his ...more
Mar 07, 2016 Fran rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
Tre stelle stiracchiatissime.
Si tratta di una raccolta di racconti probabilmente parzialmente autobiografici, che tra loro non hanno nessun tipo di connessione logica o cronologica.
I primi brevi capitoli sono veramente sconclusionati, piccoli aneddoti dimenticabili. Pian piano i racconti si allungano e prendono un minimo di corpo.
Il tutto più che ironico è molto agrodolce, con venature di autentico cattivo gusto.
"Il tarlo del teatro" e "Nudo" sono i brani che mi sono piaciuti e hanno arrotondato
May 19, 2011 Gabriel rated it liked it
David Sedaris has become one of my favorite writers. He's funny, he's brutally honest, and he looks at life through a unique lens that I've grown to love. But I'll be honest: if this had been the first book by Sedaris that I read, I probably wouldn't have found any of this out because I wouldn't have been tempted to pick up another of his books ever again.

Okay, so it wasn't unreadable. In fact, it was often funny and it did shed a light on the stupidity in society, something that I've come to ap
Nov 10, 2012 Ensiform rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, fiction
A collection of short fiction pieces – parodies, flights of fancy bordering on the absurd, and the blackest of black-humor riffs on dysfunctional families – followed by Sedaris’ debut and best-known memoir, “SantaLand Diaries,” and a few other humorous essays.

As a great fan of Sedaris, I’ve read all of his work, and enjoyed this book the least. As a fiction writer, Sedaris makes a damn fine essayist; I found his stories to be either too fantastic to be meaningful (“Don’s Story,” in which an obno
Il primo libro di Sedaris che io abbia letto, e rischia di restare l'unico. Questo racconto semi-autobiografico a singhiozzo, nonostante alcuni momenti resi godibili dall'acuto spirito di osservazione dell'autore, mi ha talvolta irritato ma più spesso annoiato. Può darsi benissimo che io non capisca il suo senso dell'umorismo, sempre che a infastidirmi non sia stato invece il gigantesco e sfacciato egocentrismo di cui mi pare dia prova il narratore, e che solo a tratti viene interrotto da ...more
Nov 28, 2007 Graceann rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Shelves: essays
Please see my review at Grace's Barrel Fever Review

Terrible, terrible book. With the sole exception of Santaland Diaries, this was a waste of time and paper. Borrow it from the library, commit Santaland Diaries to memory, and ignore the rest.
Colin James
Nov 15, 2009 Colin James rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kirstin Lipka
Although many of his stories are filled with delusions of grandeur and insane self absorption, when Sedaris does it, somehow it's still funny. For example:

"The press is having a field day over my relationship with Mike Tyson. We tried to keep it a secret, but for Mike and me there can be no privacy...We look so good together, everyone wants pictures..."

"Mike and I are arguing over what to name our kitten. For the record, a long haired cat is one thing, but a big white Persian/Himalayan blend na
Jan 28, 2014 Cassie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: essay readers, satirists, Sedaris fans
Recommended to Cassie by: Eileen
To all of the reviewers who put down this collection of short stories and essays, I say: Give the man a break! Of course this book is nothing like "Me Talk Pretty One Day"--it's Sedaris' first novel and has very little of his own memoirs inside the cover. Authors are allowed to grow and better themselves and change their style as the years pass, so let's all just take a moment to take this book for what it is: a first printing of short stories written by a man who later becomes a great speaker ...more
Jan 21, 2008 Hilda rated it did not like it
Yeah, uh..., no. I didn't like 95% of this book. I have now read all of David Sedaris books and I can unequivocally say this is the book I liked least. I liked it even less than I liked "Naked" - or should I say I disliked it even more than I disliked "Naked".

This is Sedaris' first book and IMO it's obvious. There are twelve "stories" - allegedly fiction - and four essays, supposedly non-fiction. As far as I know, all subsequent Sedaris books are essay collections. I can see why. The difference
Mar 20, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love David Sedaris. Lately I've been listening to more audiobooks but I can really only stand to listen to books that are 5-6 discs or less (I get kind of impatient if they take too long, unless there's a really good narrator). David Sedaris, reading his own work with a little help from his sister Amy Sedaris, is a great narrator. I think most authors reading their own work just know the correction delivery they're aiming for, and David Sedaris is better than most because he's got delivery ...more
Oct 30, 2008 Tracy rated it did not like it
Sedaris' first book and it shows. I am glad that he switched to the autobiographical stories and left the straight up fiction behind. reads like a john waters film, but could be better. i'd say this book is for sedaris completists and that others should just stick w/Naked.

Very weak. Just go ahead and read the later books.
Oct 02, 2016 Dimitra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Αν μου άρεσε το "χειρότερο" βιβλίο του Sedaris, φαντάσου τι θα πάθω αν διαβάσω ένα από τα καλύτερα του.

Apr 12, 2010 PlatKat rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Sedaris fans
Recommended to PlatKat by: John
The books begins with a tempestuous tabloid recount of the author's numerous affairs with famous figureheads, including boxer Mike Tyson who apparently has a softer, gayer side that none of us knew about. Throughout the first chapter, the most prevalent thought in my mind was "What the fuck am I reading?" But of course, this is David Sedaris we're talking about here, and perhaps the barrage of non-fiction literature I've been reading up to this point hadn't prepared me for the silliness.

Adam Oster
Jul 21, 2014 Adam Oster rated it it was ok
I'm actually surprised I read this whole thing. From the opening stories I felt as though this was nothing more than an amateur author testing his skills, attempting to find his voice, struggling to be humorous. On more than one occasion I actually checked the sexual preference of the author for fear that the entire thing was just supposed to be one horrible gay joke, as opposed to the working out of demons that it more likely is. Perhaps the issue is my knowledge of current David Sedaris and ...more
Dec 22, 2008 Stacey rated it it was ok
First, a disclaimer: I listened mostly to the audiobook which, upon closer inspection is titled "Barrel Fever: and Other Stories," not the subtitle from the print version (Stories and Essays), even though the cover art is the same. I was so confused by the audiobook that I was moved to check out the print version from the library to see what the he-e-double-hockey-sticks was happening. It was like David Sedaris on shuffle and I did not understand it at all. There were these like 5 minute ...more
Wes Locher
Jan 23, 2010 Wes Locher rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: fans of David Sedaris
Shelves: humor, essays, 2010-reads
Even though this is one of David Sedaris's earliest offerings, I did not read it first. I came onto Sedaris's sardonic wit through the fantastic essay collection "Me Talk Pretty One Day." After laughing my way through those 200 plus pages I was hungry for more by the author. Being a completest, I usually read everything I can by authors that I enjoy.

Coming from the high that was "Me Talk Pretty..." I was a little put off by "Barrel Fever," the next title I attempted from the author. Where as "Pr
Nov 14, 2013 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
This is an early publication of David Sedaris. The first section is a collection of short stories in the first person. If I had been smart enough to read the section title, I would have enjoyed the first couple of stories more (I spent way too much time trying to figure out how the biographical details of the narrators matched up with the Sedaris persona that I'd become so fond of). The stories all have a humorous side, but overall are rather dark (the narrators range from social misfits to ...more
Apr 30, 2009 Patrick rated it liked it
Sedaris' SantaLand Diaries is absolutely hilarious. It is a great critic of middle class consumerism and the absurdity that it brings in what is suppose to be a religious holiday.

I think this is Sedaris at his best when he makes fun of the general middle class culture and himself not anyone in specific. I also tend to prefer his writing his personal experiences over his work of fiction although I did enjoy My Manuscirpt, Glen's Homophobia Newleeter Vol. 3, No. 2, Season's Greetings to Our Frien
Julie Ehlers
As just about every other reviewer has noted, the tone of this is pretty different from Sedaris's subsequent work that's earned him so much adoration. It's darker, more misanthropic, occasionally shocking. But if you can resist comparing this to later books, it stands on its own. I thought some of these stories (particularly "Don's Story") were hilarious, and they were definitely unlike any other short stories I'd read--you can see why this collection made such a big impact on critics when it ...more
Nov 26, 2010 jennifer rated it really liked it
A book of short stories and essays that cover all kinds of subjects. It includes his most famous essay, "The SantaLand Diaries", about Sedaris' stint as a Christmas elf at the Herald Square Macy's. His short stories include the very funny "Glen's Homophobia Newsletter Vol. 3, No. 2", written by a young man who can apply the word "homophobia" to about anything, including his boyfriend. The title story is about a guy who finds the angry letters his mother had written, but not mailed, to he and his ...more
Jul 26, 2011 Tien rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
Errr, were these stories supposed to be funny? I find them to be absolute rot, completely un-enjoyable to me personally as I just could not relate to any of the characters. I liked the first Sedaris work I read which was ‘Me Talk Pretty One Day’ so I thought that I might like this one but the stories completely threw me off. Understandably, this was his first published work and differed in that they are ‘stories’ which were fiction whilst ‘Me Talk Pretty One Day’ was more of a memoir. In saying ...more
Jun 26, 2008 Andrés rated it did not like it
Good writer, bad writing. Actually, worse than bad. These short stories were funny in the sense that mass murder is amusing. "We Get Along" is easily one of the most depressing short stories I've read. Looking at the reviews and actually having read the book, I can only wonder whether we read the same book. And I wonder how people could find the stories uproariously funny. I mean, "laugh[ing] out loud more often than anything I've read in years"? What? These stories made me wince more often than ...more
Aug 22, 2011 amie rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
Some lame dude left this at my house when he was kickin' it to me. After he crossed me I figured I'd keep it and read it before giving it back, but now he doesn't work with me anymore. I would have no problem giving this book back. I really didn't like it. I've read almost all David Sedaris's other stuff and loved it, but this just didn't do it for me. The only redeeming (and I would say 4-star story) part was the "Santaland Diaries." Awesome. Other than that, I wouldn't bother reading this ...more
Apr 12, 2012 Jennie rated it really liked it
The two best stories/essays in this book, the Holiday Newsletter one and the Department Store Elf one, are also in "Holidays on Ice," which I'd already read. The other essays occasionally surprised me with their graphic detail but I did enjoy the dark humor, somewhat twisted fantasies and hilariously brutal observations.
If you like David Sedaris, you should consider the audiobook versions of his books, read by Sedaris himself. That makes his stories and essays even better.
Sep 19, 2011 Cris rated it did not like it
Shelves: i-really-tried
I have read Sedaris before and laughed and felt I need some levity and picked this off the shelf. I read more than half the book and not even a chuckle much less a laugh out loud. I may have smiled or smirked at a few of the characters here and there but no laughs. Not what I was looking for and I wasn't enjoying it so I decided to stop reading it.
Now, that's 2 books in a row I have given up on. I'm a little concerned, maybe its me.
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David Sedaris is a Grammy Award-nominated American humorist and radio contributor.

Sedaris came to prominence in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast his essay "SantaLand Diaries." He published his first collection of essays and short stories, Barrel Fever, in 1994. Each of his four subsequent essay collections, Naked (1997), Holidays on Ice (1997), Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000), Dress Your Fa
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“If you're looking for sympathy you'll find it between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.” 6244 likes
“I just looked at the pattern of my life, decided I didn't like it, and changed.” 115 likes
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