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Use Me

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  433 ratings  ·  66 reviews
The exquisitely artful fiction debut of Vanity Fair columnist Elissa Schappell is a novel told in ten stories that resonate with the most profound experiences in the life of a young woman -- friendship and rivalry, the love for a man, the birth of a child, and the death of a father.
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published March 1st 2000)
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I was excited to hear that Elissa Schappell had a book out because I am a fan of her work in "Vanity Fair." Also, I like books that have short stories or vignettes that link together (Susan Vreeland's "Girl In Hyacinth Blue" or Melissa Banks' "Girls Guide To Hunting & Fishing"). However, "Use Me," did not appeal to me. Much of the material felt contrived and gratuitous: the rebellion, the "supposed to shock you" sex, the multiple abortions, even the father's cancer- I felt like a voyeur. Ick ...more
Here's what's up: it actually kind of hurts to mark this book as "finished"! That's how much I loved it. Her characters don't suffer from contrived neuroses (I'm looking at you, Best New American Voices!), but they don't lie flat on the page either. Schappell writes deliciously intimate and truly inspiring, organic, non-gimmicky, non-cliche stories about cool, fun, complex women, and I adore her for this. Like with her other book, Blueprints for Building Better Girls, I'm left like a little kid ...more
The stories themselves are uneven, and the subject matter sometimes borders on grotesque, with a woman drinking her own breastmilk—there might be an argument for someone doing such a thing, but the author seems to approach such subjects with adolescent relish. All that being said, there were a couple stories that offered redemption.
Intriguing in a voyeuristic kind of way. I enjoyed Schappell's daring to 'go there' in a few of the stories- I read the unabashed sexual and behavioral deviance as a more or less powerful feminist trope. Then again, Evie's relationship to various members of her family often teeters between irritatingly self-centered and downright creepy. Her character doesn't really grow, inspiring me to furrow my brow and say "hmm" as I finished the last sentence and shut the book.

I give it a three because of t
Ms. Thibodeau
This is one of those books that no one has read; Elissa Schappell has a precision of language that is humbling and inspiring.
Alice Urchin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I found this book intriguing. Read it because of great reviews by Rick Moody and Jennifer Egan. Found it heartbreaking, funny, unsettling. Then at the end, the last two linked stories, I wept uncontrollably. Parent deat, likely to cause the crying right now. I've read four novels which are linked stories. My book club argues that these are not true novels. I say that definitions continue to evolve. They satisfy me in much the same way that novels do, and that short stories don't. The main charac ...more
This book follows a format that I think is very popular with college/masters students, but is not as often seen in popular fiction and is extremely difficult to do well. Well, she doesn't just do it well, she does it very well, and as a result this should be required reading for anyone attempting it.

This book is a series of linked short stories, along the lines of Davis Sedaris and Laurie Notaro. But this is fiction, not creative non-fiction, and I just don't think you see this as often in fict
I was really disappointed with this book. If I had read any of the first few stories alone, I would have thought it was amazing. But as a collection, it's weak. There are such interesting themes she begins to explore but abandons by the end for the sake of a weak narrative thread. A clearly fabulous writer who seems to have been pushed to make a collection when the collection wasn't ready to go.
Katie B-K
So. I'm not typically a fan of short story collections, but I wouldn't call this a short story collection. I would characterize it more as a series of vignettes about one person's life told through stories that don't always have that person narrating. From a structure perspective, I found it really interesting and incredibly well done.

The story itself and the themes I also enjoyed and found thought-provoking. Are all of a heterosexual woman's relationships with men defined by her father? What d
Oct 15, 2007 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: (see review)
Recommended to: all women who grew up in the US middle class in the 70's and went to east-coast colleges in the 80's and who lost their fathers or worried about losing their fathers.

This book is very nearly perfect, for me, anyway. I don't give it the 5th star because it is so specifically perfect for a certain population. I don't care what others think of it though because I am in that certain population. Reading this was like reading the memoirs of your girlhood or college best friend because
This is a remarkable book, a novel told in ten stories. I'll comment on only the one, most striking thing about it. Towards the end, in several of the last few stories, the narrator is forced to deal with the death of a loved one. I have never read anything that advanced as many new and original thoughts on that subject as does this book. Schappell possesses a depth of understanding, an uncanny dissection of the grieving process. She notices ways in which her narrator grieves that a normal human ...more
I loved this book! The reviews described it as interconnecting short stories, but after about the first 4 stories, it was all about the one girl/woman and her relationship with her father, who battles lung cancer for 14 years. The other girl/woman featured in the first couple of stories, fades into the background, but is sort of a peripheral character, as the main girl's friend. So for the first half of the book, I kept expecting to hear the other girl's voice again, but it never happened--very ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
There are so many great scenes in this novel -- strange, freaky, refreshing moments. And yet the novel as a whole fails. There are a couple of diversions -- namely, the Mary Beth chapters -- that are at times very interesting but do nothing to further the story. And Evie's father isn't developed very well, which becomes a pretty big problem later in the book. Consequently, "Use Me" often feels like an unedited manuscript, a quite impressive, at times dazzling manuscript, but one that needs to be ...more
Carla Hunnicutt
This is a novel structured as interwoven short stories about two women who become friends in college, and it ultimately turns into a novel about a woman coming to terms with her relationship with her dying father. The book opens with a story about each woman as a teenager and their relationships with their parents, then we get a story about the two of them as college roommates. After that the stories focus more on the woman who has always been daddy's girl, and now daddy is dying. The Electra co ...more
I couldn't get Schappell's most recent book at the library, so settled for the next best thing; previous works but maybe not as highly acclaimed works! I enjoyed this book. Great writer, interesting and thoughtful analysis on a father/daughter dynamic. The chapters about her father's cancer really hit home for me, as I had been through that a couple of years ago. The characters, other than the father, were a little bit despicable and could have benefited from oodles of therapy, but all to make i ...more
Jo Robertson
I enjoyed the interweaving short story format at the beginning of the book. The book changed over to being exclusively about only one of the characters. When I finished I felt unsatisfied.It felt like a large part of the story was missing.
I like the format of several stories written at different points in the life of the main character, Evie, making up the book, and I like the honesty of her voice. (I found Mary Beth, Evie's best friend, more likable--her voice provided the narrative for one or two of the pieces.) This book is very well-written, but Evie straddles the barbed-wire fence between being flawed in an interesting way that makes the reader care and flawed in a way that makes the reader want to throw the book across the ...more
I really wanted to like this book, as:

1.) The author (Elissa Schappell) and I have almost the same exact name--both first and last.

2.) Author Jerry Stahl told me that the author is a fantastic writer.

3.) The protagonist's best friend is named Mary Beth, as is mine in real life.

4.) The protagonist has a mother with breast cancer, as did my mother.

However, I just could not bring myself to finish this book. Maybe it was too close to home. The writing was great but I could not get myself to read to
I enjoyed this, but it just didn't compare to Blueprints for Better Girls, which I'd read first. I felt like Schappell was figuring out her voice and style as the book went along. The first part of the book drifted back and forth between two characters, but then she abandoned that in the second half, which felt a little weird. I also disliked the main character rather intensely at time, and by the end was a little weary of her. This was really just ok.
This book was just OK in my opinion. The characters were vivid and believable to some degree. However, I didn't feel that Evie was all that likable, and since the story is centered primarily around her and her father's death I suppose I didn't find the story very likable either. I did like the arrangement, and the short story format... and the book was well written. With that in mind, I will look forward to reading Schappell's second book soon!
I'm generally not a short story person, so this may be biased, but even though the stories were some what interconnected, I never got invovlved. I would read one sotry, and then the book sat on my nightstand for weeks while I'd whip through other books.

Both the writing and the subject matter worked if you're into chick lit that is. But the short stories never give me enough to sink my teeth into and feel fulfilled.
10 stories follow Evie (Eh-vee) as she moves from her teenage years into adulthood and motherhood while coming to terms with her father's battle with cancer. Evie's first person narrative is observant and insightful and both shares in and contrasts the sexuality of her schoolmate Mary Beth. The poignant moments shared regarding Evie's adolescence and grief linger even as you long to forget her.

I read another book by Elissa Schappell and really loved it. This one was not quite as good only because I felt like it was fragmented. It was a bunch of short stories, but in reality it was about the life of a girl and her experiences throughout her life. It wasn't in chronological order--she should have just made it into a novel and strung all of the stories together.
I thought this book was going to be almost exactly like The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, and the first few stories were, and it was delightful. Then, it became kind of boring and indulgent; e.g., the second half of the stories about the father’s death felt more like writing exercises to feel feelings and explore the past rather than works of fiction for consumption.
It took me forever to read this book. I would get really into it while I was reading it, but as soon as I put it down, I would forget all about it. I didn't think about the characters or anything and it didn't change the way I view the world. But it was still interesting and vaguely revolutionary. I don't know. I liked it but not as much as I feel I should have liked it.
Funny and poignant in places, I think this book resonates well for the 20/30 something set. While it deals with some tough issues, the coming of age aspects will be familiar and overall I found the chapter driven narrative to work well. My only request would have been more stories from Mary Beth's POV as I think her observations about life were more interesting.
I thought this book was well crafted...many beautiful sentences and unique presentation at times. However the story didn't enchant me. Several times I was moved to tears, laughed often, yet the story didn't grab me and make me want to sit with the book until the last page was turned. A story to enjoy, indeed, however not so much one by which to be swept away.
Kathleen Maguire
I would have given this book 5 stars if I were writing this review at the time I read it -- when I had a super-strong identification with the main character. It is still a great book, but I do think that might only be the case for a fairly narrow audience: young, educated woman in post-Reagan world; commitment issues; father idealization; and on.
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