Dave Barry Is from Mars and Venus

( 9 )

Overview

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, bestselling author, and Wheel of Fortune contestant Dave Barry exposes the shattering truth. Whether he's splashing with the U.S. sychronized swim team ("Picture a bunch of elegant swans swimming with a flailing sea cow") or reliving the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving ("We've decided to obliterate your culture, but first may we try the stuffing?"), Dave Barry proves that one man can make a difference--by having the guts to answer the questions few people bother to ask:

...

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Overview

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, bestselling author, and Wheel of Fortune contestant Dave Barry exposes the shattering truth. Whether he's splashing with the U.S. sychronized swim team ("Picture a bunch of elegant swans swimming with a flailing sea cow") or reliving the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving ("We've decided to obliterate your culture, but first may we try the stuffing?"), Dave Barry proves that one man can make a difference--by having the guts to answer the questions few people bother to ask:

¸  What makes people want to eat animals they would never consider petting?
¸  Where do the World's Three Most Boring People meet?
¸  Why is Colorado freezing so many human gonads?
¸  And just how does Oprah have the power to turn a 1957 Hotpoint toaster manual into a #1 bestseller?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Those not fortunate enough to live in cities where Barry's columns are syndicated have a special treat in this newest collection (following Dave Barry in Cyberspace). As his fans will expect, the pieces are delightful. Aided by readers worldwide who sent him copies of news articles about bizarre happenings, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist presents stories about dead sheep found in New Zealand treetops and the activities of decapitated cockroaches. He also takes on some of his pet hates, like opera (which, he maintains, killed an okapi in a Danish zoo) and lobsters (which, in his view, look like large insects and may become even more ominous because scientists are testing Prozac on them). A highlight is one of Barry's reader surveys on the most irritating TV commercials, the runaway winner being Mr. Whipple squeezing the Charmin. The least entertaining pieces are Barry's self-deprecating essays on his failures at such varied sports as synchronized swimming and snowboarding. But even these have their charming moments, and Barry has another success here. Photos. Author tour. (Oct.)
Library Journal
For readers of previous collections of Barry's syndicated columns, there are no surprises here. Enthusiasts will expectand will findthat the author writes with ease and whimsicality on almost every subject that chances to catch his fancy. And there seems to be nothing too insignificant or casual to attract his attention. If readers dip into the book at random, they may find first his ideastongue-in-cheek of coursefor eliminating the drug problem in the country. Next they may turn to Barry's reflections on the importance of having visible stomach muscles. Then they may find themselves reading about his views on the National Pretend Speed Limit. Barry is never uproariously funny, but he does set underway delicious trains of chuckles. At a time when so many people are in a chronic state of irritation, suspicion, and mental jaundice, the effect of the book is soothing. It cleans the palate, if not like champagne, then at least like a cool sorbet. Recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/97.]A.J. Anderson, GSLIS, Simmons Coll., Boston
Judith Newman
Dave Barry should not be read in mixed company -- or, for that matter, in any company. Because reading Barry with another person in the room invariably elicits one of two responses: ''What's so funny?'' or ''For God's sake, shut up''....Perhaps it is easier to think of Barry not as a humorist, but as a channeler: he helps you get in touch with your inner 12-year-old. -- New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
Syndicated columnist and clowning Pulitzer-nik Barry (Dave Barry in Cyberspace, 1996, etc.) is back with another series of columns, regular as an equinox and admittedly starting to strain for a decent title ("A lot of the really good ones are taken. Thin Thighs in 30 Days, for example. Also The Bible").

As any certified funster must, Barry zeroes in on little events of daily life, such quotidian subjects as lawyers, doctors, aging, marriage, Thanksgiving, O.J. Simpson, and splashing around with US Synchronized Swimming National Team One. He may be getting a little weak in the memory department. "To be honest," he admits, "I had completely forgotten that in a former life I was Mozart," and he's concerned about the effects of his OMBS ("Older Male Brain Shrinkage"). There are, indeed, signs of maturity: "Booger" jokes are scarce; they're replaced by "poop" jokes. Exploding toilets are covered, too. Barry expends precious shrinking brain power in rearranging the letters of proper names: Winston Churchill can yield "Hurls Cow Chin Lint," he tells us. (He may be pleased to learn that his own name can be rearranged to "Verry Baad," which has kind of rap flavor.) Alert readers supply him with prime fodder from diverse new sources so that he gets to label riffs with his favorite tag line, "I am not making this up," and advance them with the rim shot, "No, seriously, folks." They aren't seamless and certainly not weighty, but Barry's concoctions still deliver. As he says about a completely different subject (bug brains, if you must know), his humor "is not as simple as we thought it was before we started to think about it."

Barry remains a formidable practitioner of journalistic silliness. "Ha!" some readers may say. Some, differing, may retort, "Ha ha!" Others may simply laugh.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345425782
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 382,153
  • Product dimensions: 5.55 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Dave Barry
Dave Barry was born in Armonk, New York, in 1947 and has been steadily growing older ever since, without ever actually reaching maturity.  He attended public schools, where he distinguished himself by not getting in nearly as much trouble as he would have if authorities had been aware of everything.  He is proud to have been elected Class Clown by the Pleasantville High School in 1965.
        
Barry went to Haverford College, where he was an English major and wrote lengthy scholarly papers filled with sentences that even he did not understand.  He graduated in 1969 and eventually got a job with a newspaper named, this is the real name, the Daily Local News, in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where he covered a series of incredibly dull municipal meetings, some of which are still going on.
        
In 1975, Barry joined Burger Associates, a consulting firm that teaches effective writing to business persons.  He spent nearly eight years trying to get various businesspersons to for-God's-sake-stop-writing-things like "Enclosed please find the enclosed enclosure," but he eventually realized that it was hopeless. So, in 1983 he took a job at the Miami Herald, and he has been there ever since, although he never answers the phone.  In 1988, he won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, pending a recount.  His column appears in several hundred newspapers, yet another indication of the worsening drug crisis.
        
Barry is the author of numerous best-sellers, including the recent Dave Barry in Cyberspace (Crown 1996).  He lives in Miami, Florida.

From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

In the introduction to Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down, the author addresses the desirability of his job as a humor writer and syndicated columnist. "It looks so easy!" he wrote. "...Every year, hundreds of thousands of people try their hand at this demanding profession. After a few months, almost all of them have given up and gone back to the ninth grade."

Yes, Barry is juvenile at times -- but he has achieved the kind of success that can only come from combining a juvenile mind with intelligence, timing, and a keen eye for the absurd. Favorite Barry targets include government inanity, dogs, guys, the Internet, and other oddities of life. He also specializes in weird news and urban myths involving UFO hunters, Pop-Tart science, and toilets. Many of these essays feature the line that has become his catchphrase, "I am not making this up." (Unless, of course, he is introducing something serious and daunting such as a book about the federal government, in which case he reassures that he has made everything up.)

Usually, though, he's not making it up. What he's doing is making it very funny. Whether the target is Congress or commercials, Barry refuses to take anything seriously, least of all himself – but he manages to convey some pretty indicting truths in the process. He's a master of irony and visual punchlines, sometimes interrupting himself with lists, snippets of dialogue, or other on-topic digressions. On the subject of turning 50 and dealing with waning eyesight (a "good thing" about aging, because "you can't read anything"), Barry describes finding restaurant menus suddenly printed "in letters the height of bacteria." He continues: "For some reason, everybody else seemed to be able to read the menus. Not wishing to draw attention to myself, I started ordering my food by simply pointing to a likely looking blur.

ME (pointing to a blur): I'll have this.
WAITER: You'll have "We Do Not Accept Personal Checks"?
ME: Make that medium rare."

Barry has had the most successful and prolific publishing career of any working newspaper columnist, and his humor never seems to go out of style. In 1999, he decided to try his hand at fiction. The result was Big Trouble, a comic thriller à la Carl Hiassen (though filled more with gags than guns) that Entertainment Weekly proclaimed "... not only very funny, [but] sure-footed, even-handed, levelheaded, and other leading book review adjectives." In 2004, he and Ridley Pearson collaborated on Peter and the Starcatchers, a clever prequel to Peter Pan that spawned two additional novels and a series of spin-off children's chapter books.

Along with several other published authors, Barry is a member of the musical group Rock Bottom Remainders. In assessing the band's talents, he has been quoted as saying: "They are not musically skilled, but they are extremely loud."

Good To Know

The Rock Bottom Remainders was originally organized by a publicist to perform at the 1992 American Booksellers Association convention. The members -- which include (or have included) Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson, Barbara Kingsolver, Mitch Albom, and Matt Groening -- even took their show on the road at one point, turning it into the now out-of-print Mid-Life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude.

Some things never change: Barry was elected class clown by his Pleasantville High School class in 1965.

Barry got his start in journalism at the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pennsylvania, then worked as a business writing consultant before joining the Miami Herald in 1983.

Attempts to convert Barry's humor to the screen have been less than memorable. The early '90s CBS sitcom based on two of his books and starring Harry Anderson, Dave's World, was short-lived; the spring 2002 release Big Trouble, starring Tim Allen, didn't fare well at the box office. Barry did, however, get a cameo in the latter.

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    1. Hometown:
      Miami, Florida
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 3, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Armonk, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Haverford College, 1969
    2. Website:

Interviews & Essays

On Sunday, October 19, 1997, barnesandnoble on AOL welcomed Dave Barry, whose hilarious column on contemporary life, which appears in several hundred newspapers nationwide, has been a favorite of readers for 15 years. DAVE BARRY IS FROM MARS AND VENUS is the latest "best of" collection from this Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling author.



JainBN: Mr. Barry, thanks so much for joining us tonight. We're brimming with audience questions, so, if it's all right with you, we're going to turn our attention to them.

Dave Barry: Yes!


Question: If you're from Mars and Venus, what does that say about your readers?

Dave Barry: I need to think of an answer here.... It means they have $22 apiece. Or they are just reading the book in the cashier's line, and they will put it back before they get to the register.


Question: If you could ask Hillary Clinton any question and get an honest-to-God answer from her, what would it be? Same for Madonna.

Dave Barry: The question would be the same for both women: "What should I do about my hair?"


Question: I loved DAVE BARRY SLEPT HERE. I use it to introduce people to history. Will you be running for president in 2000?

Dave Barry: I am always running for president. I am not one of the wienies who drop out of the race just because they lose the election.


Question: Do you get most of your ideas from your fans through your fan mail?

Dave Barry: I get a lot of ideas from the readers, and some of my ideas I think up my own self. Those are the ones that aren't so funny.


Question: What's a typical day in the life of Dave Barry?

Dave Barry: Well, I get up and commit numerous acts of hygiene. This followed by breakfast, which is followed by lunch, which is followed by dinner, which is followed by more acts of hygiene and then bed. Sometimes, I also write columns. But I want to stress that the key to everything is hygiene.


Question: If you were to write a full-length novel, what would it be about?

Dave Barry: It would be about 300 pages.


Question: What is by far the zaniest thing you've ever written about?

Dave Barry: Oh, man.... There's really no one thing. I just wrote a column about grown men who build five-foot-long remote-controlled boats equipped with canons, and they tried to sink each other's boats. That seems pretty weird to me. Of course, so does the federal government.


Question: How old were you when you realized you had "the comedy touch"?

Dave Barry: I always had to survive socially by making people laugh. I'm convinced this was the only thing that kept me from getting beaten up in junior high school.


Question: Just wondering if you've ever written about Martha Stewart and if you think she's a little nuts.

Dave Barry: I think Martha is a goddess. I have a shrine to her in my kitchen.


Question: I have a few questions: (1) When's the next Tropic Hunt? (2) Are you going to do a "Bad Songs" follow-up book? (3) Why aren't you watching the Marlins game?

Dave Barry: 1) November 9. 2) No. 3) I am.


Question: I always wondered, how can comedians, or comics, be funny when they have a deadline? What if their minds go blank when a piece is due?

Dave Barry: One of the most useful attributes of a humorist is a blank mind. Since we have no useful skills or sense of shame, we're willing to say virtually anything that will make people laugh because we know that the alternative would be to get a real job.


Question: What's the best perk of writing a syndicated column?

Dave Barry: You can do it in your underwear.


Question: Dave, is it true you are politically a libertarian, and if so, how much to have coffee with you?

Dave Barry: Yes. We're not the kind of low-life sleazeballs who can be had for a cup of coffee. For people of our lofty moral stature, you have to buy beer.


Question: Of all of the books you've written, which is your favorite?

Dave Barry: I would have to say MOBY DICK.


Question: What inspired you to be a humorist instead of a current-events reporter?

Dave Barry: My hair.


Question: What was it like covering the Olympics? More fun than the Beltway? What's your favorite Olympic sport and why?

Dave Barry: Synchronized swimming, because you know that no matter what the outcome is, it doesn't matter.


Question: Dave, do you have any phobias?

Dave Barry: I really am afraid that someday a waiter will bring me clams.


Question: Do you have to be alone to create your columns?

Dave Barry: Pretty much. Usually my wife is in the room with me when I write, but she's writing too. So I'm not alone. But it's pretty solitary. Sometimes, Elvis joins us.


Question: Do you feel that humor is an antidote for overcoming tragedy in life?

Dave Barry: It may be, but mainly I feel that it's a way to make a living when you are pretty much incompetent at everything else.


Question: Do you read many books, and if so, what type of books do you read?

Dave Barry: I read a sort of random selection -- I just finished COLD MOUNTAIN, and I'm reading DEADWOOD by Pete Dexter. Also, of course, I constantly reread the entire works of Marcel Proust.


Question: Dave, newspapers are getting more and more glossy. What do you think about this? Will papers ever go away? What do you think of the color in The New York Times?

Dave Barry: I think that The New York Times has lost its mind. The next thing we know, The New York Times will be including drugs in the Arts section. I, for one, look forward to this period.


Question: How much time do you spend in chat rooms? Are you ever an anonymous lurker?

Dave Barry: I have done that, but I find that after a while, you get tired of trying to get anybody to answer you.


Question: Why the title DAVE BARRY IS FROM MARS AND VENUS? Did you read the John Gray book and find it kind of whacked?

Dave Barry: No. The title is actually a compromise. I wanted to call the book ARMPIT NOISES FROM THE HEART. The publisher wanted to call it a whole bunch of dumb things. We ended up with this title, which I tried to explain in the introduction to the book, but I frankly have no idea what it means. I'll probably get sued.


Question: How much time do you spend working on your columns each day?

Dave Barry: I write for five or six hours a day, although not always columns.


Question: Is it true you're in a rock band with Stephen King, Amy Tan, and Barbara Kingsolver? I can't begin to imagine all of you in the same room!

Dave Barry: Yes, the band is called the Rockbottom Remainders, and all of those people have played in it at one time or another. We play what Roy Blount Jr. calls "hard listening music." We play about once a year. The problem is we never practice.


Question: What ran through your head when you heard you'd won the Pulitzer for commentary?

Dave Barry: What ran through my head was that maybe I would no longer be allowed to write booger jokes. Fortunately, this did not prove to be a condition of receiving the Pulitzer Prize.


Question: I read you were a reporter for a local paper after graduating college, but that it didn't impress you. When did you decide to stop reporting the news the old-fashioned way and begin writing about topics that interested you?

Dave Barry: Actually, I really loved being a reporter for a daily newspaper in Pennsylvania called -- and I am not making this name up -- The Daily Local News. In some ways, it was the most fun job I ever had.


Question: As one of your former Burger writing students I hardly ever use the word "enclosed" more than four times in a sentence anymore. What other tips do you have for us aspiring writers?

Dave Barry: Make sure that every paragraph contains the word "aforementioned."


Question: When did you first decide that humor is what you wanted to write?

Dave Barry: The day after I was born.


Question: If it weren't for your readers sending in all those nifty keen items to you, would you still be funny?

Dave Barry: Well, I would find myself amusing, yes.


Question: Hi, Dave. You are the inspiration for my band, Nuances of Toast; our biggest hit is "Macarthur Park." What is your post-1992 all-time worst song? I have to say that I need the barf bag whenever the radio plays "Butterfly Kisses." Sometimes the radio plays this song even after I've turned it off. Maybe I need to quit drinking beer.

Question: If you hadn't become a writer, what do you suppose would have happened to you?

Dave Barry: I would probably be a highly paid underwear model.


Question: You often talk about the bugs in Florida. Are you afraid of them? Which ones are the worst?

Dave Barry: We have mosquitoes the size of helicopters. One bite from these mosquitoes and you'll have less blood in your body than you can fit in a Yoo-Hoo bottle.


Question: How long does it take you to write an essay? And could you create one now, before our very eyes? About, say, modern kitchen appliances?

Dave Barry: Thirty seconds. Sure, no problem. "Modern kitchen appliances. Is that a funny topic, or what? Booger."


Question: You do a marvelous job of consistently writing humorous columns. Do you have a particular writing process for churning out your columns each week?

Dave Barry: Yes. I say, "Oh no, if I don't send a column in today, Doris will kill me!" Doris is the office manager at Tropic magazine at The Miami Herald. I do what Doris says.


Question: Dear Dave, I don't care what Mrs. Belle Ehrlich of San Jose, CA, says. I love your hair! Can I have the clippings from your next haircut??

Dave Barry: Sure, I'll email them to you.


Question: Hey Dave, did you ever want to become a stand-up comedian?

Dave Barry: No.


Question: Dave, are you going to have a book tour? Where will you be stopping?

Dave Barry: For this book, it's mostly going to be by phone and satellite. (And I really hate when they put me in the satellite.) The only cities I'm going to in actual person are New York and Washington, D.C.


Question: Have you thought about creating a Web page of your columns?

Dave Barry: No. But many people have done this. These people know a lot about the Internet but very little about the copyright laws.


Question: David Koon, Atlanta, GA, here. I write humor for my high school paper. You are my idol. Any advice for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps? What major should I consider in college?

Dave Barry: I don't think any specific major will make you a better or worse columnist. I think the main thing is to read a lot and write a lot and try to get a job with the newspaper.


Question: Do you think you will ever retire? Or will you go on doing this forever?

Dave Barry: I think I'll keep on doing this forever, even long after I am dead. Look at William F. Buckley Jr.!


JainBN: Dave, thanks so much for joining us this evening, and best of luck with your new book!

Dave Barry: Thank you. And thanks to everybody who chose to do this instead of watching, or playing in, the World Series.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 7, 2010

    funny!

    posted from my nookColor

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Dave Barry has done it again!

    I finished this book in a couple of weeks, and while I was reading it, I would often start laughing so hard that people would ask me what was so funny. The thing that makes me laugh the most is when he rearranges the names of famous people to make it say something completely ridiculous. For example, he took Thomas Alva Edison and turned it into "Do Have Salami Snot." Another thing I enjoy about his writing is that , overall, it is good, clean humor. If you have never read anything by Dave Barry, you sure are missing out!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2000

    Dave Barry rules!

    Definately not his best book but you just can't go wrong with Dave Barry. He's never disapointed me. I'd put Dave right up there with Douglas Adams & Terry Pratchett. A thousand laughs a minute, give or take 999.

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