Since retiring his humor column in 2005, Dave “I Am Not Making This Up” Barry has largely been making things up — namely eight children’s books, two novels and one Christmas fable. His newest book, “You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty,” is a return to the form that made Barry famous: eclectic essays drawn from his life.
In the title piece, Barry escorts his teenage daughter to a Justin Bieber concert: “It turns out that the noise teenage girls make to express rapturous happiness is the same noise they would make if their feet were being gnawed off by badgers.” In “Seeking Wifi in the Holy Land,” he travels to Israel (with his Jewish wife and daughter), because, “In thy sixty-fifth year, thou shalt go into the Land of Israel, and thou shalt travel to every place in a tour bus filled with Jews.” He also gives questionable book promotion advice to aspiring writers in “How to Become a Professional Author,” cautioning “Only eight percent of book tours are fatal to the author.”
Hopefully that statistic is made up, because Barry is on a book tour, and he’s making two stops in Washington on Thursday.
I’m so excited to be chatting with you!
Well, think how I feel, Sadie Dingfelder.
Well, my middle name is Fechter.
Oh my god! Sadie Fechter Dingfelder. It almost sounds obscene.
I do have a funny name.
That’s a great name. I actually thought somebody made it up. I wish I had made your name up — it’s that great.
Speaking of making things up, since you stopped doing your column it seems like you’ve mostly focused on fiction. Why?
What I got tired of was having to produce exactly the same length column once per week. The lure of fiction is you can write whatever length you want. But I still like writing humor essays, and I liked the idea of being able to write however much felt right for that particular piece.
The Israel story in “You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty” was on the longer side. Did you include your vacation so you could make it a tax write-off?
Hey, I didn’t think of that. But now that you mention it, since it’s going to appear in the Washington Post Express that I did go to Israel for business purposes, I guess there’s no reason not to deduct that amount of money.
I was really impressed with your discovery that “Leonardo DiCaprio” can be rearranged to spell “A Ripe Racoon Dildo.” How did you figure that out?
I used to do anagrams by hand. It’s hard work, and we were better men for it. But now with these websites, anyone can do an anagram, which is how I did Leonardo DiCaprio/A Ripe Racoon Dildo.
It’s a good thing you wrote a book. You might not be able to print “dildo” in a family newspaper.
You know, standards of family newspapers keep changing, and I credit a lot of that to the band Pussy Riot, which might be a gigantic prank developed by people in Russia to get The New York Times to put the word “pussy” on the front page. If we can put “Pussy Riot” in the newspaper, we can probably put “dildo” in the newspaper.
Well, you’ve said it several times here.
There’s no way around it now.
I enjoyed your essay about getting older, and was wondering: As you are thinking about your legacy, do you think you’ll be best remembered for helping create International Talk Like a Pirate Day?
I have long said the only thing I will be remembered for, my only lasting achievement, is helping to popularize International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Nobody will have the vaguest idea who I am 20 years from now, but people will still be talking like a pirate on Sept. 19. By God, I was part of that.
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