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The Fuck-Up

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  7,175 ratings  ·  338 reviews
Arthur Nersesian's underground literary treasure is an unforgettable slice of gritty New York City life...and the darkly hilarious odyssey of an anonymous slacker. He's a perennial couch-surfer, an aspiring writer searching for himself in spite of himself, and he's just trying to survive. But life has other things in store for the fuck-up. From being dumped by his girlfrie ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 1st 1999 by MTV Books (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Noah
Dec 03, 2013 Noah rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people in need of toilet paper
you know when you buy a book based on the cover or title, essentially ignoring one of the more famous phrases that have to do with judging and books and covers? well this was that kind of purchase. i'm sure i'm not alone. a sparse cover. an intriguing title. just don't forget about the progtagonist you wish would die. i read this thing several years ago and still it ranks as one of my least favorite reads. i should have listened to oprah's book club and stayed the hell away from this thing. it w ...more
Chris
Mar 24, 2008 Chris rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nincompoops of the basest degree
Recommended to Chris by: a leg-humping dog
Having read “Story of the Eye”, “A History of Orgies”, and “Crash” within the last month, I was determined to give up reading and write a story of my own, inspired by the filthy aforementioned tales, which I tentatively titled “Whores On All Fours”. The idea was to chronicle my own licentious tales of bizarre and incredible sexual triumphs, but when discovering I only had two pages worth of material (with one encounter being recollected thrice within) I quickly abandoned this doomed attempt. I g ...more
D.R. Haney
I knew someone who had a first-edition copy of this book, and when I asked him about it, he said it wasn't any good. I took him at his word. Even so, for years I wondered why Johnny Temple had republished the book at Akashic. Finally, I decided to read the bloody thing.

Well, it reads fast, and it's funny, though not laugh-out-loud funny, not for me at least, and it brought back a lot of memories, since I lived on the Lower East Side of NYC in the early eighties, as the unnamed narrator keeps ref
...more
U.V. Ray
It's underground literature, kids. Don't expect thrills and spills. When Oprah tells you to stay away from a book, you know it's worth reading -- but those who would like this book wouldn't lend credence to Oprah's counsel anyway. A worthy modern cult classic.
Jason
I liked the first three quarters of this book a lot. It was kind of like a punk/new wave Candide set in early 80s New York. It also reminded me a lot of Walker Percy's novel The Moviegoer, which I enjoyed. The narrator, for whom the novel is clearly named, makes a series of bad decisions which invariably yield temporary benefits before leaving him worse off than before. The fun is knowing that every one of his naive and dishonest schemes will fail. I guess it's sort of dramatic irony, but the re ...more
Oriana
Sort of an interesting look at how someone fairly stable could wind up homeless. I liked it at the start, but I found it on the whole to be horribly erratic, with some smallish moments gone over in intense detail and much more important sections just completely glossed over. Also the ending was just ridiculously not believable; it felt like he just woke up one morning and said, "Hmm, I'm tired of writing this book, soooo guess I'll just end it here." Very disappointing.
Evan
I'm going through a relationship crisis right now, and for some twisted reason I felt that reading and carrying this book around would be like a little act of rebellion - would let me "own" my own fucked-up-edness. I'm glad I did, because, even though I've only read the first chapter, it made me laugh, which I thought would be impossible right now. It evokes a time and a kind of place I remember. The first chapter takes place often in a dingy second-run movie house; I frequented those a lot duri ...more
Peter Panic
To pick up a book and realize that you're currently living in that situation doesn't make the book more interesting. In fact it's like looking into a crystal ball of failure and of lost hope. Granted I'm not as fucked up as the main character, but I'm sure as hell not that far removed from his life. Unfortunately his life/my life is an exact replica of me being 24, except I live in a bigger city now. BUt alas those are my own issues, not goodreads...

Even though I finished reading the book almost
...more
Pete
Oct 20, 2014 Pete rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014, usa
It's a book that should be revisited (if it was ever visited). My friends that want to be writers all live in New York, and this is a book about what happens when you go to New York to be a writer. While a lot of the events fit snuggly within the dream of big city life and Bukowski-from the gutter failure-cum-success, it's a a believable story of failure. It is also the story of a generation without opportunity to realize lofty dreams created by a lavish adolescence. Published in the early-90s, ...more
Malvolio
crap. no continuity. the guy didn't even know what he was talking about. even mildly homophobic and offensive, and not in a good way.
god. i should have known better... i mean MTV books? oops.
Jennifer
I would highly reccomend this book to anyone with balls enough to explore a world completely unlike his own. This book follows one 20 something's unambitious but not exactly apathetic foray through his NYC life. He fails at relationships, keeping a job, keeping a roof over his head and via all three and a suicide learns the only lesson there is to learn from life, namely, how to learn contentment even when things aren't awesome.

Excellent, real, gritty prose. A shorter more approachable "Infinit
...more
Nicky
I read this in one sitting and didn’t get bored, only stopped to go to the bathroom and make a snack, which is saying an awful lot for me, especially lately. It was funny, moving, sad, interesting, weird, heartbreaking, and sweet. The main character isn’t perfect by any stretch and does some fucked-up things (obviously, hence the title), but it’s hard not to root for him, especially in the end when he’s such a fucking ridiculous mess.
David
Nersesian does a great job of keeping the reader concerned even though the main character isn't particularly likeable. Really, he's kind of a schmuck. Still, I was concerned about what was going to happen to him. And so many things do. Wildly improbably, the events are still believable. Vividly described as well. The result is a very entertaining novel.
joshua toro
eh. he's a fuck up. he fuck's up. he tries t not fuck up, fails, and fucks up again.
Roxy Viajar
I admit I am one of those people who judge a book by it's cover and title. Of course, it had me at the title. "The Fuck-Up".I guess I was expecting more dark humor, more satire, it did have some good and humorous bits and pieces though and had the sort of wisdom you need for surviving the real world. The first few chapters were very fun, it clearly shaped the main character,and brought the setting, New york! New york!, alive. All fresh graduates might relate to this because this clearly shows ho ...more
Nate
I was going to give this book three stars but I think the two star's "it was ok" is a better description. This book is not a total waste of time. I would just describe it as something you shouldn't prioritize to read.

Mostly it has to do with the audience it targets. I'm 20 and I think I'm well within the target audience. And I get it. The story is about a nameless narrator who, while smart and well-read is a bit of a slacker. There is little that motivates him beyond his mentor, Helmsley and the
...more
J.C.
One time while I was visiting San Francisco I came across an anarchist bookstore, and because the concept of such a place was so fascinating I just had to check it out. Inside i found this book sitting there, and was totally captured by the title. I admit it, the F bomb caught my attention. It was ballsy, catchy and sounded like it might be a good story.


A couple years later and here i am, slightly disappointed. It's not a disaster, but I found a lot of it to come off as gimmicky, and some of it
...more
Jinny Chung
"You know you've been in a place too long when every other locale serves as a reference for some sad recollection."

"I was moving away from myself; silly ideas and images moved their way across the desert of my mind. I no longer had control; all I could do was watch them and react; sometimes I'd laugh, sometimes I'd cry. The great caravan of thoughts passed more and more rarely until soon there was just the great desert: tabula rasa."

Funny! --But somehow also deeply profound.

This little bugger is
...more
Hannah  Messler
Oh man! I remember finding this on the shelf in the St. Augustine Barnes & Noble when I was twenty and being like Whoah that says FUCK right on the cover, and buying it and reading it and liking it kind of pretty okay but NOW I live in New York and I see Arthur Nersesian all over the place and the other day he came by and was like "Hey someone just gave me a copy of my book, want it?" and signed it all nice and so I went home and read it yesterday and oh man! Isn't that a sweet little story? ...more
Tim
Dec 15, 2014 Tim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
This was/is a popular book among a certain set of people, the kind that hang out in New York City's East Village (something I have done a lot). It falls into the general category of urban rebel tales, and is quite good for what it is. There are references to bars, theaters, shops, many of which no longer exist but all of which I remember. In the attitudes of many of the characters it also reflects an attitude that exists to a much lesser degree now in the city, a kind of streetsmart hostility an ...more
Jonathan Sparkles
A modern day masterpiece. Classic literature with late 20th century flair. Never a dull moment. Flawless storytelling. A non-stop adventure full of a few ups and a lot of downs. The uneasy yet often fulfilling life of a homeless romantic is on display here and I had a hard time putting the book down. It left me completely satisfied, but also wanting more, which of course means it was the perfect length. Highly recommended for fans of top shelf writing and never giving up.
Isaac Cooper
I’m about 30 pages away from finishing The Fuck-Up, and I have absolutely no interest in doing so. What literary blue balls! Oh well. The book wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t exactly that great, either. It had its ups and downs. Never heard of the author, just randomly picked it from a Goodreads recommendation. I guess it could’ve been worse. It wasn’t Quite Ugly One Morning (man, did that book suck. I know I’ve already said that in my review but, boy, that sucked. That’s my new Dan Brown-level s ...more
Luke Padgett
I got kicked out of the public library for laughing out loud at this book, which may be a better story than the book itself. I happened to read this book at a time in my life where I could relate to the main character so I ended up enjoying the book immensely. Still, the librarian seemed to take offense that not only was I laughing at a book aloud, but the book had a curse word in the title. Fuck her. I thought it was funny.
Alp Arslan
Romanın adı Türkçe'ye çevrilmeden (yalnızca baştaki "the" takısı atılarak) kullanılmış ki bence gayet isabetli bir karar olmuş. Arka kapak yazısında geçen "avare" ifadesi belki bir nebze yakınlaşıyor ama yine de fuck-up'ın Türkçe'de tam bir karşılığı olduğundan emin değilim. Her neyse.
Hikayemiz tam bir sıçıp batırma hikayesi. Arthur Nersesian bizlere 1980'lerin New York'unda geçen bir hikaye anlatıyor. Kahramanımız bir sinemada yer gösterici olarak çalışırken aynı sinemada çalışan birine "yazıl
...more
Henry
Set mostly in lower Manhattan in the 1980's, this is Nersesian's first published book and is very atmospheric, moving & personal. The plots and anti-social situations make the book a fevered read. Also recommend "Chinese Take Out" which is mostly set in the East Village and by the same author.
Hannah
Before I started reading this book, I checked out the reviews here on Goodreads. As you may know, the reviews are quite mixed. I remember people preferring the first half of the book to the second and someone saying it was too depressing and there was no real plot. I read this reviews critically. I distinct remember thinking, "there's no way these critical reviews are right. I'm sure all love it. Now, I'm a person who can get into the hipster/indie stuff, but this book was almost nauseating. I c ...more
Jennifer Seyfried
The main character is pretty much what you would expect from the title of this book. I'm not sure I would describe him as a lovable fuck-up. He is kind of lazy and dishonest, but not a total waste of skin. Somehow I expected more humor from the story. There is some, but not really enough for my taste. There's too many bad decisions and horrible consequences for me to really laugh at it too much. I didn't expect him to fall as far as he did, he really hit bottom before somebody finally saves his ...more
Mon
I hope Nersesian didn't win an award for this book because to be honest, I can't be bothered to check his profile page. Thanks to the mediocrity of The Fuck-Up, however, now I can enjoy whatever I plan on reading next, even if it's a Meg Cabot.
Joseph
This was an interesting book, by a guy I'd never heard of...Reminds me of on the road in New York.
Laura
Unimpressive. Although the story is engrossing, Nersesian's prose style is forced--it seems to me as though he were trying too hard to produce a hybrid of Trainspotting and The Catcher in the Rye.
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Black Humor and B...: First Book 1 5 Apr 14, 2014 12:06PM  
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Arthur Nersesian is the author of eight novels, including The Fuck-Up (Akashic, 1997 & MTV Books/Simon & Schuster, 1999), Chinese Takeout (HarperCollins), Manhattan Loverboy (Akashic), Suicide Casanova (Akashic), dogrun (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster), and Unlubricated (HarperCollins). He is also the author of East Village Tetralogy, a collection of four plays. He lives in New York City.

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Dogrun Chinese Takeout Suicide Casanova Unlubricated Manhattan Loverboy

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“As the components of your life are stripped away, after all the ambitions and hopes vaporize, you reach a self-reflective starkness-- the repetitious plucking of a single overwound string.” 6 likes
“Perhaps the price of comfort is that life passes more rapidly. But for anyone who has lived in uneasiness, even for a short, memorable duration, it's a trade-off that will gladly be made.” 4 likes
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