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Comment: (X-LIBRARY LIBRARY STICKERS/MARKINGS) (COVER: MEDIUM WEAR) (PAGES: MEDIUM WEAR)
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Apathy and Other Small Victories Paperback – June 26, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 217 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like many a hip young literary antihero these days, the protagonist of this hilarious if aimless debut is sunk in slacker anomie. Shane has a monotonous temp job at an insurance agency, where he is supposed to alphabetize paperwork but instead spends his time sleeping on the toilet. After work, he is besieged by a gallery of grotesques: a vapid girlfriend who sexually brutalizes him; an absurdly macho neighbor with a leather-clad guinea pig for a sex slave; and his dentist's deaf assistant, who sings atonal karaoke, teaches him to sign obscenities and furnishes a wispy narrative thread by getting murdered. In a world both banal and assaultive, Shane can only drink, steal salt shakers and cultivate his sense of irony; "[t]here's only so much you can do," he shrugs, "and even that's not worth the trouble." Shane's malaise doesn't feel earned; job aside, there are just too many gonzo goings-on—the landlord, for instance, is paying him to have sex with his wife—for him to feel so listless. There's not much to Shane besides a defiant dejectedness, but from that Neilan spins many sparkling comic riffs on the tawdriness and sterility of American life. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Shane's a numb loser in a city full of freaks. He learned to swear in sign language so he could converse with his dentist's deaf hygienist, but now she's dead, and the police want answers and fluid samples. When it's not sending up crime novels, the narrative satirizes soulless corporate life, but Shane is hard to take either way. In a rare moment of honest assessment, he notes, "I have always thought of people as punch lines." And that's what this book is: an onrushing series of twisted gags, some of them hilarious, others not so much. (Neilan would be funnier if he wasn't so smugly sure of how funny he is.) A highlight: "And then there was some sex . . . We were like two dead fish being slapped together by an off-duty clown." Remember those "Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey" throwaways that used to run between sketches on Saturday Night Live? This is a (barely) novel-length version of that kind of humor. In other words, juvenile fun for undiscerning lads with two hours to kill. A mystery for the Maxim generation. Frank Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (June 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312352190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312352196
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.7 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (217 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I can't express how funny this book is. It satirizes that 95% of the world that makes your life more miserable with each passing minute. The breakup scene beginning on page 172 makes me so happy that I want to hang it on my wall. His ex-girlfriend tries to hurt him with shallow pop psychology insults and he mocks her so slyly and satisfyingly that I cheered. Every page contains multiple out loud laughs.

It's a difficult book to describe but an easy one to read and enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
I thought this book was ridiculously funny. Originally, I only bought this because Max Barry said to (I'm a sucker for a great marketing scheme), but I have been euphoric to find that this was a smart and funny story that had me crying from laughing so hard. Quite possibly one of the funniest books I have read today.
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Format: Hardcover
... in the best way possible.

I compulsively read sections of it out loud to anyone who will listen.

I also highly encouraged a crowded room of librarians to buy it and read it out loud to their patrons.
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Format: Hardcover
I love it when something amazing is not critically acclaimed and essentially ignored. Doesn't it seep credibility? I've read others' reviews of this and I am wondering why no one has hit on the obvious: this is our generation's foul-mouthed Holden Caulfield.

Oh my goodness the story is not perfect- duh - it's not supposed to be. We don't get completely developed characters -duh - we are not supposed to. We don't know why Shane has hit this point in his life- get real...we aren't supposed to. What happened to symbolism and thought and stretching our minds? We are supposed to absorb the prose and imagine and work through and enjoy this.

Wow- when was the last time we read something, not for the story, but just for the words? Not to skim for the action but to sip on each sentence like a fine wine? No, not Salinger but maybe Salinger mixed with a bit of ourselves.

Critics go back to your bestsellers---I prefer something that makes me think AND laugh.
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Format: Hardcover
The promo tag on the jacket is eerily accurate--if you like Office Space, Bukowski, or A Confederacy of Dunces, you'll probably enjoy this. The book is totally reliant on the poisonously funny black humor of the narrator, but that's okay. It's not a long enough book to need more than one brilliant element. And hey, it's a first novel. I can't wait for another one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have trouble reading - a lot of trouble. I would have to break up Sherlock Holmes short stories (my favorite stories!) because 30 pages was too long for a sitting. So keep that in mind when I tell you that I read this book cover to cover and could not set it down. It is hilarious, thoughtful, and the perfect amount of surprising. Over the top, while somehow completely down to earth and realistic. Absolutely wonderful!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's hard to write a book called (and about?) APATHY without opening yourself up to the typical criticisms and jokes. Author Paul Neilan hasn't written anything in the six years since this book, so it seems like he may have fell into his own lackadaisical rabbit hole. If the contents of this book are any indication, he may just be twiddling his thumbs and waiting for the next weird idea to pop into his head.

Because the book is weird. Aggressively. It follows a slacker named Shane, a guy who has so little motivation that it's a wonder he isn't homeless. Through Shane, the book attempts to satirize life with a series of nihilistic observations about corporate culture, political correctness, sex, and general ennui. The observations have been called "genius" or "brilliant" by more than one reviewer, but this is stretching it way too far, if for no other reason than because the book is incredibly disingenuous about what it is about.

Shane is meant to be a totem of contemporary aimlessness. He does no work at his job, spending most of his time sleeping on the toilet. He makes absolutely no attempt to develop or nurture any of his relationships, whether it's with his landlord, his landlord's wife (with whom he is sleeping in lieu of paying rent), his coworkers, or his inexplicably violent excuse for a girlfriend. He has no reason for his malaise; he's just a lazy jerk. End of story.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Apathy is a relatively short novel compared to what I usually purchase or recommend, but the plot was interesting and humorous enough that I ended up reading it all in one night, staying up until 4 A.M. to finish it. The book has a steady chronological plot that alternates between flashbacks and an interrogation, and a small cast that allows for more character development than a large one would. The setting is realistic, and the majority of what the characters go through during the novel is realistic and could happen to pretty much anybody. Apathy is definitely more of a young adult novel as opposed to something for older readers, but due to the content and language isn't something you would want anybody under the age of 18 or so to be reading.
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