PlatKat's Reviews > Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays

Barrel Fever by David Sedaris
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's review
Apr 12, 2010

liked it
Recommended to PlatKat by: John
Recommended for: Sedaris fans
Read in April, 2010 , read count: 1

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.

Although the book was clever and funny and everything you'd expect from Sedaris, I didn't enjoy it as much as Naked, Holidays on Ice, or my absolute favorite, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.

After the WTF wave passes, there are a few gems toward the end of the book. He bemoans the use of repetition to make a point, saying people must have learned to do this from watching bad TV. Instead of saying a cliche a second time to emphasize it, people should just say something original once if they really want to grab their listener's attention.

He also calls out my favorite pet peeve, people who refer to themselves as crazy. I feel like I've run into these types all too often. "I am wearing two different socks, I'm so crazy!" "I've got a pet iguana, look at me! I'm nuts!" "I got drunk at a bar with my friends and we made a scene because we're so crazy!"

If you have to tell me you're crazy, you aren't crazy enough.

And on the topic of smoking, a touchy subject whether you do it or not, he slashes a non-smoker who asks the narrating character, "Could 'we' make this a non-smoking park bench?" As Sedaris indicates, you're not doing a smoker any favors by asking him to put out his cigarette. He won't be profusely thanking the kind stranger who added 15 seconds to his life further down the road. You're merely giving him an extra 15 seconds to hate your guts and think up ways to subtract at least as many seconds from yours.

His final essay recounting his days spent as an elf in a department store Santa wonderland provided a few good laughs. My favorite line was, "I couldn't tell where the retards stopped and the regular New Yorkers began." Although it's an overstatement, it goes to show just how much fodder that city provides for an aspiring writer working at minimum wage.
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