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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Barrel Fever by David Sedaris 
23rd-Sep-2006 11:59 pm
This guy comes highly recommended by a lot of random people...but maybe I picked the wrong title or something 'cause I'm not impressed.

Sedaris, David. Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays. 1994. New York: Back Bay Books, 1995.
Summary: Includes twelve fictional short stories and four essays.
Comments: Well, if you're a fan of insufferable, self-obsessed drama queens (both female and male...the male ones are almost all homosexual), then you've come to the right place because Sedaris' fiction is chock-full of them. I wasn't even halfway through "Parade," the first story, wherein the (male) narrator is sleeping with every (male) superstar on the face of the planet Earth and giving you his tell-all, before I decided that the writer of the stories himself was a supreme asshole. And, indeed, my opinion seemed confirmed by subsequent offerings such as "My Manuscript," about a mean-spirited boy busy putting his homosexual orgy fantasies to paper, "Glen's Homophobia Newsletter," about a self-righteous gay bigot who sees homophobia everywhere but can't see his own prejudices, and "Season's Greetings," about a suburban housewife who kills her own grandchild (by throwing him into the washing machine) in order to frame the murder on her husband's newly-discovered half-Vietnamese daughter. Incidentally, the title story is about an alcoholic whose deceased mother is a vindictive white supremacist. I think you get the point. Sure, it's supposed to be satire, but Sedaris has apparently forgotten to zip up his id's fly. Thankfully, the essays, which are about Sedaris' own life, are a bit more humble and a hell of a lot more humane. Of the four, "Diary of a Smoker" doesn't deserve the paper it is printed on (pretty much any smoker these days would say the exact same thing) and only "SantaLand Diaries" is worth the time--but, hell, any account of working as an elf at the NYC Macys during the holiday season has GOT to be fascinating, right?
Notes: trade paperback, 20th printing
Rating: 4/10 - Sedaris apparently sticks solely to essays in subsequent books. Thank God. Anyway, the thirty pages (of some 200) of "SantaLand Diaries" isn't worth the price of the entire book, so save your money.
25th-Sep-2006 12:03 am (UTC)
For all his popularity, Sedaris really isn't that fantastic of a writer (as you've noted). However, I think that either Me Talk Pretty One Day or Naked would have been a better starting point. Honestly, I enjoy listening to him reading his works more than I do reading them, which is an extreme rarity for me.
25th-Sep-2006 11:06 am (UTC)
Don't even get me started on Sedaris. Yuck.

I heard him read the "SantaLand Diaries" on NPR about two X-Mases ago and, despite the fact that it was the only story you enjoyed, I looooooaaaaaaaathed it. And, for the record, didn't think there was a grain of truth in it. Not a grain. He just made the entire thing up to be funny. I'm 100% sure he never even worked as a Macy's Christmas elf. To hear his smug Billie Holliday impersonation turned my stomach. I hate all that snarky, superior, sarcastic irony that has been passing for humour these past fifteen years or so. You can have it.
25th-Sep-2006 12:35 pm (UTC)
despite the fact that it was the only story you enjoyed, I looooooaaaaaaaathed it.

That should give you an idea of how awful the rest of it was, then.

And, for the record, didn't think there was a grain of truth in it.

No kidding. I should've been clued in by the way in which he transitioned from "fiction" to "essays." He who cannot write pretends it's all true, apparently.

1st-Oct-2006 03:29 am (UTC)
Review archived.
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