Customer Reviews: American Spirit: A Novel
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on September 13, 2013
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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on February 22, 2014
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 30, 2014
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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on March 18, 2015
Picked up this book because I'm a fan of The Moth podcast and thought it's gotta be a good read if the host of the moth wrote it, right?
Not really.
Maybe it was just that I could never relate or even sympathize with the main character. He had a poor attitude and outlook on life. He reminded me of some people I know that are never happy and think that everyone and everything in this world are against them and don't realize the only person that's against them are themselves. I actually was rooting against this guy the whole time and hoping he would off himself so the story would be over. Though I'll admit I was a little happy for the guy at the end.
Ultimately it was well written, but I hated the main character.
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on September 19, 2014
I can see why this was a polarizing book. Imagine if The Catcher in the Rye was written today, by someone a little less talented than Salinger. American Spirit follows "Matthew" on a similarly destructive, profane and self-abusive journey.

This book was a roller coaster... started out great, towards the middle I was seeing the point of all the bad reviewers, but redeemed itself a little bit at the end. The writing is definitely sprawling and aspirational, with lots of long sentences and pontificating, but most of the time it works.
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on February 11, 2014
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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on October 19, 2013
I could have used a few more flashbacks to show me why I wanted to care about Matthew...the few that were there were too little too late. Really expected a grizzly during the Yellowstone episode. Loved many moments, especially the guy who packaged the mugs. A few laugh-out-loud moments, too.

Fast read, so I don't feel it was a waste of time.
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on December 11, 2014
This book will require you to read thoughtfully. If you do, you will laugh out loud (such a rarity in a novel!) and feel genuine care for Matthew. If you can't handle reading something that requires you to hang on for the literary ride, and maybe even reread a passage now and then for clarity, don't bother. If you are smarter than the average bear, this might be one of the best stories you'll ever read. THANK YOU DAN KENNEDY! I will be checking out your other stuff although it appears this is your only novel to date.
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on January 28, 2014
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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on January 2, 2014
I really just never got attached to the protagonist in this novel. He was just a little too pathetic for me. That may have been intentional, but he began to infuriate me too much to keep investing the reading time.
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