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BARREL FEVER by David Sedaris


by David Sedaris

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-316-77940-7
Publisher: Little, Brown

NPR storyteller Sedaris chronicles a society slightly removed from the mainstream and characters who don't quite fit in with the masses. Deadpan exaggeration gives this first collection a satirical edge. The narrator of ``Parade'' discusses his homosexual relationships with stars whose straightness has never been questioned (Bruce Springsteen, Mike Tyson, and Peter Jennings), using the same matter-of-fact tone to describe the torrid affair of Elizabeth Dole and Pat Buckley. In ``We Get Along,'' Dale lives with his mother, who is full of anger against her deceased, womanizing husband and every night spitefully calls a woman she suspects had an affair with him. Distancing himself from both parents, Dale tries not to rock the boat while keeping some secrets to himself. ``Glen's Homophobia Newsletter, Vol. 3, No. 2'' is a parody of the persecuted in which any minority group could be substituted to replace the whining homosexual who bemoans his suffering at the oppressive hands of society in a style so over- the-top as to be laughable. These and nine other stories are followed by four essays. ``Diary of a Smoker'' is also an account of persecution (by nonsmokers); ``Giantess'' relates Sedaris's experiences with a magazine of erotica about enormous women. Far exceeding them in wit is ``SantaLand Diaries,'' previously read on NPR's ``Morning Edition,'' which describes his seasonal stint as a Macy's elf. Four days of rigorous training on the eighth floor barely prepared him for the crowds, the Santas, and the unending barrage of questions. Throughout the collection, without slapping the reader in the face with a political diatribe, the author skewers our ridiculous fascination with other people's tedious everyday lives. Life may be banal here, but Sedaris's take on it is vastly entertaining. (Author tour)