Wes Locher's Reviews > Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays

Barrel Fever by David Sedaris
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's review
Jan 23, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: humor, essays, 2010-reads
Recommended for: fans of David Sedaris

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 "Pretty" contains mostly true stories about Sedaris's life, the first section of Barrel Fever (and the largest chunk of the book) was made up of fictional essays. The essays are still hilarious and after having re-read them since, they hold up as some of the craziest writing that I've read to date. It's clear that the earlier Sedaris was a bit more daring and willing to go for some shock value within his writing.

In fact, upon re-reading Barrel Fever, I find the true stories, which make up the second half of the book to be almost lackluster compared to the zany writing up front.

Overall, a solid collection of stories, but not his strongest work, in my opinion. Will you laugh while reading it? Oh, yes you will. Will you remember these stories after checking out some of his other works? Eh, it's not likely.

If you enjoy the first half of Barrel Fever, then I recommend following this book with Sedaris's "Holidays on Ice" which also contains several essays that are just... well... out there.
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