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Publisher's Summary

In David Sedaris' world, no one is safe and no cow is sacred. A manic cross between Mark Leyner, Fran Lebowitz, and the National Enquirer, Sedaris' 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 teenage suicide tries to incite a lynch mob at her funeral; a bitter Santa abuses the elves.

David Sedaris made his debut on NPR's Morning Edition with "SantaLand Diaries", recounting his strange-but-true experiences as an elf at Macy's, and soon became one of the show's most popular commentators. With a perfect eye and a voice infused with as much empathy as wit, Sedaris writes stories and essays that target the soulful ridiculousness of our behavior. Barrel Fever is like a blind date with modern life, and anything can happen.

©1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 David Sedaris (P)1998, 2001 Time Warner AudioBooks

Critic Reviews

"Extremely, relentlessly funny." (Booklist)
"David and Amy Sedaris have a deadpan delivery as ironic as the words they read. The two of them create a nuclear barrage of humor you could never replicate by reading this material on your own." (The Boston Globe)

What listeners say about Barrel Fever and Other Stories

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    3 out of 5 stars

Be warned- Santaland Diaries is NOT included

I understand this audiobook is abridged, but not including Santaland Diaries (by far the most popular story in the printed book) is bizarre. The publisher's description used by Audible.com is two paragraphs, the first paragraph includes a description of Santaland Diaries and the second paragraph is almost completely devoted to Santaland Diaries. And one of the other stories included in the audiobook even references Santaland Diaries. Yet no Santaland Diaries in the audiobook, and no warning of this from Audible.com.

Anyway David Sedaris is great as always and his reading is entertaining and fun but it's tough to recommend an audiobook of stories missing the best and most popular story in the printed book. I was on a road trip and promised my friend I would have Santaland Diaries audio for the ride. It was a little disappointing to sit through the recording while driving and wondering where Santaland Diaries is, so I emailed Audible.com support to let them know they might want to change the audiobook's description on their website.

Their email back to me (abridged, natch):

"Dear Eric, (not my name)
After reviewing your account and the title that you mentioned, it appears that the title maybe missing a section as the title is a revised and curtailed edition of the original version. However, let me further explain further details surrounding titles that are 'Abridged'.
An abridged book is usually a shortened version of the original written text. It is condensed by removing some of the original plot details, yet retaining the sense of the entire book."

I wrote them back again further explaining that I want to point out that this download is bound to disappoint most people who buy it with their current description and I did not get a response from their condescending computer customer support who (I guess?) calls everyone Eric.

31 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars

My first wasted audio credit

After reading "Dress Your Family..." and "Me Talk Pretty...", which are both excellent, I was ready for more Sedaris. This is only 3 hours long but I figured it might be some of his live routines, which are usually the funniest. There were none.

It's hard to believe this is written by the same guy. The first 2.5 hours are dull, consisting of a series of stories which are bizarre but not funny at all. They are perhaps meant to be shocking because they were "gay" but I found them boring. I kept wanting to skip forward, but I was waiting for the jokes because sometimes he lets his stories build. I was always disappointed. The last half hour is better but still not up to his other material.

I'm not sure of the chronology of this, but I think it is some of his earliest works, long before he sharpened his wit and perfected his delivery. It feels like early Beatles bootlegs, which no one but die hard collectors would care about. Someone figured he could make a buck by digging up Sedaris' earliest works once he became famous. Save your credit for his more recent stuff.

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

My least favorite David Sedaris so far

As usual, David Sedaris is hilarious, smart, and just fabulous to listen to. However, some of the stories were uninteresting and unfunny-- a first for me reading his work. And his sister got to be just irritating with her ridiculous (not in a good way) accents. I fast forwarded through a large segment of the second half.

10 people found this helpful

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Not a Sedaris favorite

I found only a few stories interesting. Compared to his other books, this one doesn't hold up.

2 people found this helpful

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Weakest Sedaris

Love Sedaris, but this one was sort of the weakest link. Stories were not as developed and not as funny as most of his work. Not a bad book, just not very exciting.

1 person found this helpful

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Uneven but still great

A mixture of essays and short stories, there are some great moments, but also some not so great. Not bad, mind you, just not as consistently good as David's later publications. Still, in the end, a must for Sedaris fans.

1 person found this helpful

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Another delight

Listening to David and Amy Sedaris reading was an utter utter delight! I hope he will include more family members in his readings in the future!

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Classic Sedaris..

Fans of Sedaris will love this collection of essays and stories. Sedaris has a wit about him like no other. Very LGBTQIA+ friendly. Highly recommend if you enjoy hilarity & well written stories. This is an early collection from Sedaris. This book is exactly why I fell in love with this author.

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Easily David Sedaris at his best

I just love early Sedaris. Some of the satirical stuff is unlike what he does now (like Don’s Story, about a loser who goes to Hollywood and is courted by all these bigwig producers and stars about selling his life story), but I still love them.

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Disappointing Sedaris book

I'm a fan of David Sedaris and I've really enjoyed his other books, but I didn't like this one. Seems to me like this was a lot of leftover materials, stuff that didn't get published because it was just no good, not funny. I realize there is a lot of irony in this book, but those stupid storied just went on for way too long and just weren't that funny. If you're just getting into David Sedaris and getting to know his work, choose a different book of his, rather than this one.