Apathy and Other Small Victories

Apathy and Other Small Victories

The only thing Shane cares about is leaving.

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.

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In this case, the "fix" is a good dose of schadenfreude, or maybe just the vicarious satisfaction of observing other people behaving badly.

It's the kind of funny that when you're TRYING to read it out loud you almost can't, because you're choking with laughter.

And its not that I didnt enjoy Apathy. The main character, Shane, is a slacker who lands a temp job he doesnt want at the insurance company where his abusive girlfriend works. He has an odd friendship with his deaf dental hygienist and sleeps with his landlords wife once a week. As you might guess, the main character lives a life of apathy. With the exception of his seemingly sincere friendship with his deaf hygienistdespite the fact that he makes fun of her behind her backwhom he seems to really like. To admit he has feelings. Beyond the title, Apathy left me feeling undecided. The main character was often hilarious but with a cynical, ironic tone that kept him at a distance. (I do feel its okay to hate a characters attributes even if its hard to tell if the author is neutral or critical.

Apathy and Other Small Victories follows Shane, an aimless twenty eight year old wanderer. If I recall correctly, this was how I came to read House of Leaves, The Raw Shark Texts and this book, Apathy and Other Small Victories. They showed me that reading wasnt just work (although, some books can still feel that way) and that it could be an enjoyable way to pass the time. Ive definitely worked in one or two offices similar to what Shane describes. Yes, I get how soul-crushing it can be to work in an office like that, but Im not interested in reading about how much it sucks over and over and over again as it becomes less of a story and more of a platform to regurgitate some sort of deep-seated hatred of office life.

I didnt get past page 2 until summer, though I liked it a lot. Once summer hit, I read 50 pages in one sitting and laughed convulsively the whole way through.

Contrary to the blurb on the back of the book which declares Neilan's wit to be a "razor that cuts and slashes mercilessly on every page", I thought it was more like a dull vegetable peeler, and about as amusing. There were some funny parts, like the dead fish sex metaphors (maybe they were similes, I can't remember), and Mobo's faux-Spanish terms of address, but on the whole, this "weirdly hilarious" story just sort of flopped about lamely.

Do not read the rest of this unless you feel like reading a lot of complaining. The most interesting element of this novel was the murder investigation, and it was literally set up a bit in the beginning and then a solution was tacked onto the end. I think it is because this book is billed as being "funny" people will excuse its thin and pointless plot line. I think the author was actually adding in some of these things to give Shane even an ounce of identification for the common person, which I believe also felt tacked on as an afterthought. I think the author would say yes, but the novel is from his first person perspective and the other characters are so flat, the reader is given no other choice but to view him as the hero of this story. Well "Apathy" for a book about not giving a shit, I think you tried way too hard.

  • English

  • Fiction

  • Rating: 3.83
  • Pages: 240
  • Publish Date: May 2nd 2006 by St. Martin's Press
  • Isbn10: 0312351747
  • Isbn13: 9780312351748