13 member(s) found this review helpful.
David Sedaris' first book, "Barrel Fever," gives the clearest distinction between a story and an essay that I have ever seen. I own a copy of Sedaris' most recent work, "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim," and I thought "Barrel Fever" would be much the same: Hilarious tales of Sedaris' real life, from his childhood in suburban North Carolina to his present-day life as a witty ex-pat in Paris. But the majority of "Barrel Fever" is "stories." That is to say, fiction. Hilarious fiction, yes, but more raucous, more raw, than his later works. Instead of Sedaris being himself, he is a teenaged girl, directing her own funeral service from beyond the grave. Or, he becomes a harried housewife, telling the world of her family's bizarre woes through an overly cheerful!!! Christmas letter. Newcomers should be able to enjoy his writing style, but those familiar with his work also will be able to recognize the true-to-life facts hiding behind the fiction. The book ends with the very funny "SantaLand Diaries" essay -- the reading of which on National Public Radio brought Sedaris his first measure of public fame. All in all, "Barrel Fever" was a great and very pleasant surprise to this Sedaris fan.
7 member(s) found this review helpful.
I defy you to read the story about his working at the Macy's Santaland and not laugh out loud so much that it hurts. Impossible. It's flat out hysterical writing that can also be touching.
6 member(s) found this review helpful.
A bit edgier that the other collection of Sedaris essays, but still an entertaining read.