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Loser Goes First: My Thirty-Something Years of Dumb Luck and Minor Humiliation

3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  366 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
It all begins on Christmas morning, 1978. Dan Kennedy is ten years old and wants a black Gibson Les Paul guitar, the kind Peter Frampton plays. It will be his passport to the coolest (only) band in the neighborhood—Jokerz. He doesn’t get it. Instead, his parents present him with what they think he wants most, a real-estate loan calculator (called the Loan Arranger) and a m ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 24th 2004 by Three Rivers Press (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jessica
Dec 13, 2007 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Laugh out loud funny, which can be kind of a problem if you're reading it in a surgeon's waiting room and no one else seems to be in the mood to listen to you giggle. Looking forward to his next one, which I think it due out in February.
Bryan
Jun 28, 2012 Bryan rated it did not like it
Let's take a look at the praise for this book according to back cover:

Laugh out loud funny: False. I may have chucked silently to myself a couple times over the course of reading but I may have been thinking about something funnier; like nuclear destruction.

Dan Kennedy first had to read a Laugh out loud funny life: False. In this book he basically comes off as a lazy slacker with an aversion to any actual work or activity that would be productive to society in general.

Flat out Brilliant: False
...more
Malinda
Jul 08, 2008 Malinda rated it really liked it
Like most of the books that I read, this was a random pull from the library shelf. Dan Kennedy is very funny and wrote this book chronicling his attempt to reach adulthood. The interesting thing about this book is that it isn't just straight chapters and narrative. That normal prose is included, but there are also lists, open letters, imaginary speeches, and a variety of other random things that all come together to tell this story. It made me smile quite a few times.
Kevin Kosar
Apr 03, 2013 Kevin Kosar rated it did not like it
My mind was exhausted. I wasn't ready for sleep, but I hadn't the stomach for TV. All the magazines and nonfiction books by my bed were just too much. I need an easy read---easier than any of the few dozen paperback mysteries piled up by my desk.

And there it was---Dan Kennedy's Loser Goes First....(read more)
Erik
May 31, 2008 Erik rated it really liked it
I read this book yesterday. Yep, one book, one day. It's that short. The book came dangerously close to violating my primary directive of novels: don't use characters that take their bad luck and compound on it to make more bad luck. Clowngirl fell into this hole. Confederacy of Dunces did as well. Kennedy never quite sank to that level. His failures were balanced by his successes, and besides, he's funny. That's good enough for me.
Deb Davis
May 29, 2013 Deb Davis rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on-it
This book was in desperate need of an editor. I knew I was in trouble when I read the following on page 2: "I walked with the epic slow pace of a bishop...with the timing of a monk and the casual sort of confidence not unlike that of a pope or a church owner/manager or whatever men happened to walk in churches with a deliberate pace."

That is just one example of many tortured sentences. I made it to page 10 and called it a day.
Ben
Jul 29, 2007 Ben rated it liked it
the title is pretty amazing. i like this book's honesty, and occasionally liked its style of humor, but it kinda meanders.
Audrey
Mar 08, 2009 Audrey rated it liked it
Some deeply hilarious moments, but maybe not enough. Seemed like a self-help primer for the Judd Apatow set.
Emily Sapp
Sep 25, 2011 Emily Sapp rated it really liked it
Really well written. I believe I may have even LOL'd. A light, quick, easy read -- great for those of us enjoying an extended adolescence.
Jack Casey
Sep 20, 2013 Jack Casey rated it really liked it
Well, I thought this book was good because, it first took place on Christmas 1978 in Southern California, and the main charcter, Dan got a loan calculator, and some GE deejay stuff, as well.
Then, in 1979, Dan Kennedy the protagonist in the story, tries to become involved in a rock band at school, but he just gets humiliated by his friends. A year later in 1980, his family moves to a small mountain town in northern California to find work because of a transfer, so along the way Dan struggules wit
...more
Laura
Sep 26, 2007 Laura rated it it was ok
I kept waiting for this to get better and somehow it never did. I got this one on the strength of Mountain Man Dance Moves, which Kennedy contributed to and which was one of the funniest books I've read in the past ten years or so. This was a completely different genre, of course -- a memoir instead of a book of lists -- so I guess it wasn't quite fair to hold him to such high expectations, especially because he only contributed to the previous book. In any event, I was all set to love this, and ...more
John
Jun 11, 2008 John rated it it was ok
Not nearly as good as "Rock On", his second book, this is a conglomeration of autobiographical detritus and journal entries. It reads like the first draft of a screenplay or sitcom or stand-up comedy routine. A) It can't decide what it is, B) There are some genuinely funny bits in it C) It has no real plot D) There's a lot of stuff that's funny... if you were there.

Dan Kennedy can write a devastatingly satirical piece on entertainment. Find his "light bulb" bit from "Rock On", it's incredibly f
...more
Alexandra Hilditch
Nov 01, 2012 Alexandra Hilditch rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, but then Kennedy's work history is somewhat tangential to mine, so I can really relate. An autobiographical look at the moments in life when one must step back and ask, "Wait, how did I even get to this point?," Loser Goes First... is a simultaneous shot of confidence and reality for the other lucky losers of the world. If you aren't familiar, check out Kennedy's essays on McSweeney's Internet Tendency for a sampling of his sense of humor and style: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/a ...more
Mackenzie
Apr 08, 2009 Mackenzie rated it liked it
I read this book because I listen to the Moth podcast and I always wondered who Dan Kennedy was. Then one day they started advertising the books he's written so I had to go out and find one. He writes like he speaks which is very comfortable and easy to read. I only gave 3 stars because his narrative doesn't go deep into the different stages of his life. It sometimes feels like he is still using humor as a defense mechanism and decided to write a whole book that way. Still, it was interesting an ...more
Clackamas
I knew 15 pages in that I didn't like this book, but I finished it anyway. It just wasn't interesting or funny.

The author has had opportunity after opportunity dropped in his lap and never shows any appreciation for it. Instead, he whines, squanders his chances, and unapologetically lets people down. The book was written in a stream of consciousness format that can be great if done properly, but this wasn't. All of that could make interesting, though frustrating reading if of were at least funn
...more
Chris Hite
Jul 25, 2008 Chris Hite rated it really liked it
So not exactly the sort of book that requires a year to read, but a fun memoir of a guy whose endless string of wrong turns and poor choices culminates in a whatever happens, happens sort of life strategy. Not self help per se, but for a slacker or someone who is having trouble finding their way in life, this book helps to expose the very real fact that that sort of reality is not all that uncommon. Reassuring to say the least. Very funny at points, pretty witty and dry at points.
David
Oct 01, 2009 David added it
A horrible book. I guess run-on sentences are supposed to be "hip"-like the author, but it was a boring read about an interesting life, with an interesting career path. But,the author is self-negating to a fault-just turning it into a depressing, unfunny joke.

If he can write a book on his life, probably any of us can. The only positive it shows is that with my weird path of various jobs probably isn't that unusual.
Coffeeboss
Apr 30, 2008 Coffeeboss rated it liked it
Shelves: humor
I preferred Dan Kennedy's Rock On!, probably because it was more focused. However this book came first. This is basically a self-effacing bio of a Generation X-er, with all the miserable failures, terrible jobs, and slackerdom that seemed to define many people of my age in the 90s especially. Though his tales are often cringe-inducing, Kennedy is still a very funny writer. If you like his other stuff, you'll enjoy this one, too.
Gregory
Mar 04, 2008 Gregory rated it it was ok
I laughed pretty hard at some choice moments in this book (his description of trying to dangle his legs out a window to fool a friend washing dishes on the first floor, which resulted in his falling out the window was pretty hilarious). Overall I thought it started strong and petered out. His tales of young humiliation were much funnier than his later years of just lucking into things. A quick, fun light-hearted read...but I still prefer Paul Feig's book Kick Me for a good tale of loserdom.
Katie Tatton
This is the growing-up story (well, kind of, as I quit reading far past his legal adulthood but well before his becoming an actual grown-up) of the author, who through a series of poor decisions and laziness is on the fast track to Loserville. Parts of the book were quite funny, but a strong undercurrent of sadness floated just beneath the surface of the story. This is one of the few books I've had on my To Read list for years that I just could not finish.
Jessica
Sep 11, 2007 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone under 40
All I can say about this book is that while reading it I started laughing so hard that I was crying, and I happened to be at the airport and the lady in the chair next to me said "that's the best damn book recommendation a person can give!"

Don't know officially if it was really that funny, or if I was just on the verge of a professional nervous breakdown, but either way, I'm going to give it 4 stars...
Jennifer
Aug 14, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
I got this from Amazon (bad for author's - I know, some of my books have sold for .01 Cents, I will never make royalties again, just enjoy an eternal Half Life of the embers of print) - because Rock On was so fricking hysterical. And this is, too. Except that nobody else gets to be ruefully self deprecating and honest, now, or have any sobered up perspective on adolescence, because you can't top this one!
Todd Huish
May 27, 2008 Todd Huish rated it really liked it
I love a good memoir and Dan Kennedy gives a really good memoir. Just like "Rock On" he rides that perfect balance between honesty, self deprecation and humor that keeps you going. It's possible I just really identify with him and that's why I liked it so much but I think there's plenty of us out here enjoy his stories.
Janet
Nov 16, 2010 Janet marked it as books-i-didn-t-finish
I think Dan Kennedy is a really funny, personable, smart guy. This book didn't reflect the charisma and humor he brings to speaking engagements, on-stage performances, Moth hostings, or even real-life conversation. The book is funny, all right, but when held in contrast to the real-life guy, it seemed a little lackluster. Perhaps I'm just spoiled by meeting this celebrity author! :)
Lisa
Aug 02, 2009 Lisa rated it did not like it
This book is pretty terrible.

I found it in a villa among many other not-awesome free books. I put it into my luggage thinking it would be better than nothing on the plane. I was was wrong.

It was only mildly entertaining, in the way reality television is. I do sort of like the random format. But it seems like it would benefit from some editing.
Sean Carman
Aug 03, 2013 Sean Carman rated it it was amazing
Dan Kennedy's hilarious memoir about his journey of noble life failures, from the junior high school band he never quite joined to his position as creative director of a dotcom that e-mailed jokes to its subscribers. Here is where I would write the sentence that perfectly sums up this clever, hilarious, and at just the right number of times genuinely moving debut.
Tim Stewart
Nov 26, 2009 Tim Stewart rated it really liked it
I had read his other book about working as a writer for the music business and only months later stumbled onto this earlier book he had done. Hilarious read, but I will say that if you don't like it in the first chapter, you're not going to like it anymore by the last -- there's a motif here about losing that you either love or hate -- but if you're on board early you'll be LAUGHING HARD!!
Brandon Gee
Apr 26, 2013 Brandon Gee rated it liked it
I think perhaps I related a little too much to the author, ha. While I enjoyed the book, the tales of spotty effort and failure reminded me of my own life to a degree. I've gotta start making some changes.
Michael
Aug 11, 2014 Michael rated it it was ok
Found it in a book exchange, read it during a day on the beach. I admit to occasionally chuckling, but I certainly did not "laugh out loud" as the cover claims. Poorly written, barely structured, not particularly interesting, there's really not too much positive to say about this book.
David
Mar 09, 2008 David rated it liked it
Memoir of a self-described loser. Kennedy seems like a decent guy, and there are parts which were laugh-out-loud funny, but the charm wears off somewhere around the three-quarter mark.

On the other hand, this book is likely to make you feel better about your own life.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. This is New York novelist Dan Kennedy of The Moth, not the business advice guru.

Dan Kennedy is an American writer living in New York and host of The Moth storytelling podcast. He is the author of three books: "Loser Goes First" (Random House, 2004), "Rock On" (Algonquin, 2008), and "American Spirit: A Novel" (A
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