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American Spirit: A Novel Hardcover – May 28, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Little A / New Harvest (May 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544032047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544032040
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #644,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

"If it’s hard to make the premise of American Spirit—unemployed man spends his days drinking in parking lot—sound interesting, imagine how much more difficult it would be to write it compellingly. But Kennedy does exactly that. Dark humor pervades the voyage of the down-and-out white-collar professional Matthew, who struggles on his diet of thin self-deception to avoid plunging into the morass beneath: the failure of his marriage, career, and health. This is the crash after the main event, showing that one man’s fight to keep going can be every bit as enthralling as what happened to get him to the bottom. Much of the time Matthew is drunk or high, his Woolfian ramblings undercut with the barely recognized knowledge that he is not actually holding things together. This is the eponymous American spirit—foolhardy, even dangerous, but surprisingly beautiful at times—an apt description for the novel itself. Following two memoirs, Kennedy’s fiction debut is a full-throttle, white-knuckle adventure into a land of destroyed dreams, a land whose residents are so confident it makes the normal people seem crazy."—Bridget Thoreson, Booklist

Review

"Matthew’s stoned, stream-of-consciousness ramblings are laugh-out-loud funny, yet interspersed with passages of startling and poignant beauty. Highly recommended, especially for fans of other sharp, iconoclastic authors like Jay McInerney, Douglas Coupland, and Eric Bogosian."—Library Journal

"Dan Kennedy not only manages to craft bitter, effective comedy out of life’s darker corners—egregious substance abuse, financial collapse, depression and death but he makes it look easy."Washington Independent Review of Books

"Kennedy (Rock On), host of The Moth storytelling series, has far surpassed the creation of character and conjured an entity so alive in its knowledge of impending death that we're captured in a new idea of what it's like to live."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Dan Kennedy's debut novel American Spirit impresses with dark humor and the immersive world of its struggling middle-aged protagonist." —Largehearted Boy

"American Spirit
is very funny and has a finger pressed on the pulse of something current and weird.  Reading this book reminds of of how I felt upon reading Bright Lights Big City, or Generation X, great books with aimless contemporary heros.  If you've ever seen Dan Kennedy on stage, you know he can entertain like crazy, and dammit he can do it with the written word as well!"Arthur Bradford, author of Dogwalker

American Spirit reminds us of the fearsome beauty in a free meditation class, that the right slogan on a coffee mug can change your life. This sneakily soulful novel from Dan Kennedy will make you howl out loud and believe in second chances all over again.”Benjamin Anastas, author of Too Good to Be True

"Dan Kennedy is the laugh-out-loud Proust of American post-youth strivers.”Jerry Stahl, author of I, Fatty


Praise for Dan Kenney’s book Rock On: An Office Power Ballad:

"Fast-moving and darkly funny, Rock On should be a chart topper."People 4 of 4 stars

"Imagine a love child born of The Office and High Fidelity.” —USA Today

"Pitch-perfect...brilliant, hysterical and insightful.” —The New York Post
 

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More About the Author

Dan Kennedy is a humorist in New York City, a contributor at McSweeney's, and host of The Moth storytelling podcast and live events. He is the author of three books: "American Sprit: A Novel", "Rock On", and "Loser Goes First". PLEASE NOTE: He is NOT the author of any 'get rich quick' business and marketing books, in no way endorses any such works, and claims no legal responsibility for the advice given therein. His credentials are often listed on such works in error.

AUTHOR DISAMBIGUATION: There are several authors named Dan Kennedy listed on Amazon. The author described above is a New York based writer and the author of the above referenced books (two memoirs, one novel). There should be no confusion between his works and certain/any non-fiction sales or financial advice books, as he has authored none, is not referenced in any such works, does not in any way endorse said works, and claims no legal responsibility for the advice given therein.

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Customer Reviews

Easy and fun read.
Charlie
His crooked Wall Street mate Tim is equally as much fun and could have had a lot more time.
Tommy Dooley
He was just a little too pathetic for me.
MBnAtlanta

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Gary on September 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sorry Dan, I like you on The Moth and I bought this book on the strength of that name recognition however I absolutely hated this book. So much so that I only read about 45 minutes and literally could not force myself to suffer through anymore. I should have read the reviews before I bought this.

My main issue was that the "plot" moved at an absolutely glacial place. 99% of the text neither advances the plot nor develops the character. The writer has attempted to entertain us with witty rhetoric and insights into the characters mind but at the cost of the plot. I found that I actively disliked the character because of his self pity and weakness.

So, after 45 minutes of reading I hated the main character, there was not plot to speak of and the writing style was self absorbed . Too many good books out there to waste money on this one.
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Format: Hardcover
Meet Mathew, he is mid forty- something, his partner has left him, he has done something bad at work which has resulted in him having more leisure time than he ever thought he needed and he is drinking to fill the void of having anything meaningful to actually do.

Whilst maintaining a waffer thin veneer of normalcy by pretending to go to work; he actually is spending most of his time getting anesthetised in the drivers seat of his BMW. He soon realises that he needs to do 'something', even if it is to just meet someone and have a conversation. So begins his `progress' which will see him try out drug dealing, visit a friend who is hiding in a luxury camper home in Yellowstone Park and require emergency medical treatment for something his expired insurance would have had him covered for.

Yes Mathew is a mess but he is a lovable mess. He is fallible, he is considerate and in most aspects he is honest. He seems to get himself into situations that are always going to go wrong or end up being amusing. This is written with a confidence that carries you along with the story. The language and the pacing are just right, people are given equal time for either consideration or dismissal which ever is most deserved and it is all done with a dry wit that is as disarming as it is amusing.

I loved this book, it is quite hard to make a train wreck of a man be as likeable and even in some respects inspirational as Mathew comes across. His crooked Wall Street mate Tim is equally as much fun and could have had a lot more time. But then that is the only real criticism of this book and that is that it ends too soon, I could have dealt with a whole lot more and that is something that always makes a book an especially brilliant read; Dan Kennedy has , hopefully, a massive hit on his hands - absolutely recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John H. Matthews on February 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
American Spirit by Dan Kennedy is a clinical examination of a soul in crisis. Though I admired the many searing and sometimes poetic observations about American culture and quest for self-help, the bulk of the story is told at a cold distance that doesn’t inspire compassion toward Matthew’s plight. Kennedy has proved his talent for the humorous in Loser Goes First, but don’t go looking for hilarity here aside from a few choice passages such as when Matthew tries to understand millennials or teenage girls’ fascination with vampires. From an ugly and sometimes tedious first half, the book improves along the way and ultimately reaches a satisfying conclusion. The book is worth experiencing mainly for the occasional but gloriously caustic indictments of American culture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Yasmin H. McEwen on January 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Honestly, I do not recommend this book to anyone in the hospital with stitches or sutures. Not to anyone who might laugh so hard it hurts. Because I did laugh so hard and you just really need to be prepared for this kind of humor. Apparently, not everyone likes this book and I wonder if they read the same book that I did. This may be the funniest book of the year. Seriously.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By KELLEE FORKENBROCK on June 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One reviewer on GoodReads said that if you can make it through the first chapter, it's the book for you.

Ergo - this ain't the book for me. Not by a long shot. However, if you enjoy reading the running incongruent thoughts of an unemployed 40-year-old man living in a BMW, have at it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Borre on February 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I tried explaining what this book was about to a co-worker and came up short. I'll do the same here. There's depravity and self destruction, hopelessness and delightful humor. The book is cathartic, depressing and laugh out loud funny.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Pearce on January 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great writing-a rollicking ride on the crazy train-or RV in this case. These characters are human, smart crazy, and vulnerable- many boundaries smashed in their unique approach to life. Loved it.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If this is American Spirit... it's no wonder we are a society in decline.

Setting our sights on lack of connection, substituting escape and excess.
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