Apathy and other small victories

Paul Neilan

Book - 2006

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FICTION/Neilan, Paul
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Subjects
Published
New York : St. Martin's Press 2006.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Physical Description
231 p. ; 19 cm
ISBN
0312351747
Main Author
Paul Neilan (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

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. ((Reviewed May 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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) [Page 36]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Following a pattern of disconnectedness and flight throughout his life, Shane finds his latest attempt to withdraw complicated by his sadistic corporate climber would-be girlfriend, a rent-subsidized affair with his landlord's wife, the hearing-impaired assistant to Shane's unstable dentist, and an untimely murder.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Following a pattern of disconnectedness and flight throughout his life, Shane finds his latest attempt to withdraw complicated by his sadistic corporate climber would-be girlfriend, a rent-subsidized affair with his landlord's wife, the hearing-impaired assistant to Shane's unstable dentist, and an untimely murder. 35,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The only thing Shane cares about is leaving. Usually on a Greyhound bus, right before his life falls apart again. Just like he planned. But this time it's complicated: there's a sadistic corporate climber who thinks she's his girlfriend, a rent-subsidized affair with his landlord's wife, and the bizarrely appealing deaf assistant to Shane's cosmically unstable dentist.When one of the women is murdered and Shane is the only suspect who doesn't care enough to act like he didn't do it, the question becomes just how he'll clear the good name he never had and doesn't particularly want: his own.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

The only thing Shane cares about is leaving. Usually on a Greyhound bus, right before his life falls apart again. Just like he planned. But this time it’s complicated: there's a sadistic corporate climber who thinks she’s his girlfriend, a rent-subsidized affair with his landlord’s wife, and the bizarrely appealing deaf assistant to Shane’s cosmically unstable dentist. When one of the women is murdered, and Shane is the only suspect who doesn’t care enough to act like he didn’t do it, the question becomes just how he’ll clear the good name he never had and doesn’t particularly want: his own.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

The only thing Shane cares about is leaving. Usually on a Greyhound bus, right before his life falls apart again. Just like he planned. But this time it's complicated: there's a sadistic corporate climber who thinks she's his girlfriend, a rent-subsidized affair with his landlord's wife, and the bizarrely appealing deaf assistant to Shane's cosmically unstable dentist. When one of the women is murdered, and Shane is the only suspect who doesn't care enough to act like he didn't do it, the question becomes just how he'll clear the good name he never had and doesn't particularly want: his own.