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You're Not Much Use to Anyone: A Novel Hardcover – International Edition, July 22, 2014
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“Read this if you’re a fan of Tao Lin’s lo-fi renderings of aimless city kids.” —Nylon, Best Books of the Summer
“Punchy and…poignant.” —Vice
“The Internet becomes a novel in You’re Not Much Use to Anyone…a memoirist novel… [where] well-curated, pointillist anecdotes make up the action.” —The Daily Dot“You're Not Much Use to Anyone, blurs the line between life and fiction, depicting the obsessive world of the twenty-something with frightening clarity.” —Village Voice
“There's a raw honesty and deceptive thoughtfulness here.” —BuzzFeed Books“If you've ever been curious about how anonymous bloggers get unexpectedly Internet-famous, this book will tell you in great, hyper-aware detail…Plus, it reads like a ‘Who's Who of NYC.’” —Refinery 29
“In You’re Not Much Use to Anyone, David Shapiro lays bare the whole of a conflict-ridden, uncertain and scary existence…he is like the little brother of Karl Ove Knausgaard, a fellow literary genius who, by telling the truth of his life, transcended it; by laying claim to the whole of his humanity, transcended it...fascinating.” —The Awl
“Underneath Shapiro’s seemingly affectless tone is a great deal of real—and urbane—wit as well as an incisive eye for the details that drive relationships. You're Not Much Use to Anyone deliciously captures the plight of the early twentysomething liberal arts major set adrift in a world not especially congenial to his or her particular skill set. It's a very fun and surprisingly poignant read.” —Adelle Waldman, author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
“I read David Shapiro's very funny and deeply moving first novel beginning to end without stopping, delighted and stimulated by its interesting range of endearing characters and the unpretentious, compassionate voice of the narrator, who I found irresistibly and singularly real: at once playful and vulnerable and charming and harsh, yearning and impulsive, mysterious and relatable. I highly recommend You’re Not Much Use to Anyone.” —Tao Lin, author of Taipei
“David Shapiro is the best critic of the made-up status-obsessed horror-show world his generation inherited. His dryly hilarious book would have been nonsensical twenty years ago. He's the obsessive voice of a generation that can see every little crazy thing—except themselves—more clearly than ever.” —Choire Sicha, author of Very Recent History
“David Shapiro's You're Not Much Use to Anyone seems to me the first example we've seen of the successful transformation of blog into novel: where other such projects have lazily slapped the hash of old online content between hard covers, Shapiro has invented a way to use a set of formal tensions—between the raw and the cooked, the fast and the slow, the urgent and the considered – to say something provocative, new, and very funny about performance, ambition, jealousy, and fear. If Tao Lin had been born to Gary Shteyngart's parents and spent his early twenties slaving for pageviews at NewYorker.com, he would have written something like this, the Bright Lights, Big City of the click-here-now generation.” —Gideon Lewis-Kraus, author of A Sense of Direction
About the Author
David Shapiro is the creator of the hit blog Pitchfork Reviews Reviews and The World’s First Perfect Zine. He has written for The New York Observer, The Wall Street Journal, Interview, and other places. He is currently working as a corporate lawyer specializing in private-equity transactions.
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Shapiro is perhaps the least likable protagonist I've ever encountered. He's unbelievably self-absorbed and a liar. He gets mad at his girlfriends when they have promising career opportunities. He is NOT a good person and that makes him impossible to root for throughout the book. The worst part is that he views his immense privilege (his parents pay for him to live in the city) as a burden and complains about it.
The only positives in this book is that there are moments that make the story feel really genuine, or at least to Internet-obsessed people like myself who catch these little references.
This book was like "Girls" if it was even worse and had a cis-het, white male protagonist who was incredibly bland, selfish and just awful in every way imaginable. Thankfully, Dave Shapiro went to law school and gave up writing.
Don't waste your time with this unless you're an Internet-centric person. Even then, just get it from a library.
I'll leave you with the opening of a much better review from GoodReads that sums it all up:
"Imaginary conversation between David Shapiro and his publisher:
Amazon Publishing: Hey, David. So glad I was able to get you on the phone. Listen, I hear you have a Tumblr with over 30,000 followers and that you are, in particular, very popular with other Brooklyn hipsters like yourself. This is exactly the sort of buzzy project we really need to launch our trade publishing program! How about you write a novel for us?
David Shapiro: [Thinks for a minute.] I don't know if I'm qualified to write a whole book. Before my Tumblr I never really wrote at all, just term papers for high school and college. And as you can see, the writing on my Tumblr is really amateurish. If I did try to write a novel, I doubt it would be any good.
Amazon: Good? What does "good" have to do with it?"
Review: I really enjoyed this book. I read it in a couple hours and laughed audibly several times (whilst alone). I related to the narrator and to many of the experiences that were so honestly portrayed in this "novel." I loved the honesty and the private moments that make you re-realize "hey, I'm not alone in this world, other people try to hide picking their nose too."
Disclaimer: I went to the Sun Kil Moon concert at The Town Hall and Mark mentioned how everyone asks him if Benji is "true." He responded by saying "Yeah, I'm really gonna be sad when my mom dies. There's a Red Lobster in Akron, Ohio. There really was a serial killer named Ramirez who died of natural causes." After Mark finished condescending to his fans, I was still left wondering if Carissa died from a trash fire, and I think she actually did.
Review: "You're Not Much Use to Anyone: A Novel" is well written! It feels a little bit like reading stream of consciousness poetry that has been slightly edited so as to garner a slightly better grade in high school English class. And it feels so honest! At times I felt like Shapiro was letting me into a secret that I probably didn't need to know, but that actually did contextualize the emotion that Shapiro is conveying through the narrative.
Disclaimer: I'm not that different from Shapiro, so I probably have a proclivity towards yaying more than naying, because I understand this world he is writing about, because let's face it, I live in the exact same world. I'm a late-twenties white guy living in Brooklyn, and yes, I own flannel shirts. But no sneakers, because I'm outdoorsy.
Review: I think what Shapiro is writing about matters. Our world is changing at the speed of fiber optics and this book in some ways really illustrates serious underlying problems with our society. It's masked in humor and the tale of finding a self-deprecating sort of fame, but you also find yourself asking why someone with an economics degree from a really great college is working part time filing papers. Why couldn't he get a better job? And what about the people whose parents don't pay their rent? Or the kids who get knocked up by Sallie Mae for $150,000 of loans for the same education that gets them the same $14/hour job? I think that's serious and heavy and worth writing and reading about.
Disclaimer: Shapiro not getting a good job out of college is not as important a subject as something like institutionalized racism or Ariel Sharon. But his struggle is the one that many of the American "millennial" generation are going through, have gone through, or will soon go through. And while this book may not be as important per se, in some ways it's a lot more relevant than the heavier things.
Conclusion: Read the book. It's quick, it's entertaining, and it has some touching moments. And I think it is "true," not that it matters. Because a late-twenties kid isn't going to sell his memoirs, the publisher will make him write a "novel."
9.0 out of 10 (I round up to five stars, but hey, 9.0 is near perfect in the land of sharp grass-handling tools)
Aside: Hey David! I figure you're probably reading this... maybe I'll see you on the L train sometime and we'll share awkward half-stares. Great novel!