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Gary Benchley, Rock Star

3.31  ·  Rating Details ·  138 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
“Before I moved to New York from Albany, I wrote out a careful, step-by-step plan: 1) Rock out; 2) No more data entry.”

Gary Benchley, recent college grad and aspiring rock star, left his dead-end life in Albany to seek his fortune in that hotbed of hipsters—Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Earnestly optimistic and completely confident in his fate, Gary writes of his trials and t

Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 27th 2005 by Plume
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Community Reviews

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Dec 03, 2007 Paul rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Shelves: wrote
Jan 27, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: paper
Very well written. I particularly enjoyed the side references & musical allusions, although they tailed off after the beginning. The book was originally a serial in, so it's not surprising that the writing changed over time.

I wondered a lot, early in the book, whether Gary was a moron or just naive and incredibly self-unaware. I have tentatively concluded that he's more of a simple soul than a simpleton (but still no genius).

I liked the very ending, but felt li
Jul 07, 2009 Charles rated it it was amazing
Hipsters, you have been skewered. This book is for those of you familiar with the Williamsburg scene circa 2004-05. There is a lot of "name dropping" of influential independent music throughout the book. So if you are well versed in that genre of music, big relatability bonus for you as you read through. Outside of that, there is a great story here. This endlessly optomistic kid is headed for greatness or bust. If you are a fan of indie music, read this and laugh out loud as I did.
Mar 25, 2008 Maureen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Remember how to be a dumbass 22 year old all over again.

Personally, it helped me figure out what love is.
Aug 31, 2008 Joel rated it really liked it
While I was reading this, I kept thinking "I am just like Gary."

I am nothing like Gary.
Aug 22, 2007 Mo rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to rock
Shelves: rock
None of it was real. Realistic, sure, but definitely not real.

Some figured it out, but thousands fell for it. Regular Jane’s and Joe’s around the world, possibly the only chick drummer from Namibia, bands, literary agents, newspaper editors and more all wanted a piece of Gary Benchley.

He wasn’t real though. Gary Benchley was simply a figment of blogger/essayist Paul Ford’s imagination. A personal challenge turned into life dream realization in the form of a faux rock star occasional blog-postin
Aug 29, 2008 Meave rated it it was amazing
A satisfying read after Paul Ford tortured everyone pretending to be Gary Benchley a few years ago on The Morning News. I really wanted to believe that he was real, incidentally, so I didn't read the book when it was first published because I was mad. Then I met Paul, and he brought these amazing G-Unit Books, and it was impossible to hold anything against such an amazing and wonderful person.

Anyway, I read this book in something like two hours. It's mostly light, very clever, and I love the cha
Steven Myers
Apr 28, 2011 Steven Myers rated it really liked it
Way back when this was being published as a blog on (but was a hoax) I was gobbling it up. Living in NYC myself, reading about this guys day to day ambition to ROCK!!!! I was getting a vicarious jolt as he went through the grind. Then when he signed off, writing that he had to discontinue the blog because he was offered a contract to publish it as a book, I was happy for him but dissapointed that it would no longer be a regular feature on TMN. In fact I quit frequenting TMN an ...more
Dec 26, 2014 Georgina rated it liked it
Giving star ratings seems slightly pointless, but I did enjoy this novel so much that several years after borrowing it from the library, and forgetting it's correct title, I went to great effort to track down and purchase a copy. It provides a very detailed diary view of NYC/Brooklyn circa 2004, through the eyes of Gary Benchley as he tries to achieve his early 20 something goals: live in hipsterville Williamsburg, get work, start a band. References to his older girlfriend, who nicknames him you ...more
Dec 25, 2012 Evan rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
When Bookslut included this on its list of best rock novels, I pooh-poohed it, figuring it for another load of New York hipster triumphalist bollocks. Then I found myself on the Morning News website, on which most of this originally appeared, and decided I should check it out. I hadn't laughed so hard at a piece of writing in a long time ... the kind of nervous laughter that comes from an uncomfortable truth hitting home. It's hard to aim right down the middle of the laughing-with/laughing-at di ...more
Matt Evans
Jul 13, 2008 Matt Evans rated it liked it
Paul Ford is Gary Benchley. (Google it to see what I mean.) This novel came about by way of one helluva hoax. I was totally sucked in (as were hundreds of others). Mr. Ford is an editor for Harpers, and he's a phenomenal writer. The novel: the life and hard times of a wannabe indie rocker named Gary. The best part is when Gary has groupie sex with a woman who, on morning light, turns out to have a wooden foot, and a massive collection of "Left Behind" novels. She witnesses to Gary, over their aw ...more
Josh Friedlander
A fun, whimsical tale of a dream pursued in the hipster Ground Zero of Williamsburg c. 2005. The main character's Polyanna-ish outlook, and his '70s style rock ethos (slightly at odds with the myriad indie rock references) make this a lodestar for the creative-and-hopeful, not world-weary-and-cooler-than-thou, school of 20-something scenester. At its heart: a tale of artistic development, a lesson in persistence, and a funny, ephemeral summer read.
Sep 23, 2009 Joanne rated it liked it
This wasn't a bad book but for some reason I wasn't very gung-ho about picking it up and reading. Based on a fictional character that moves to NYC and wants to start a band. Originally was a newspaper column written by the author but everyone thought it was written by the title character and that he was a real person. Some bits are funny. I probably would rather give it 2 1/2 stars if I could.
Nov 10, 2008 Will rated it really liked it
Shelves: cool-music, society
It's quite refreshing when a hipster decides to be transparent about his hip world, takes it all with a sense of humor. This is the story of a modern day 20-something in uber-cool Brooklynn set to be an Indie-rock super star. Though the initial success came a little faster than in reality, the author really got it right what it's like on the inside of being in a small-time band - band mates, managers, labels, tours, groupies. Cool, cool stuff.
John Treanor
Jul 09, 2012 John Treanor rated it it was ok
A fun read. Reminds you of how difficult it is to be in a band, while everyone is pulling in different directions, maintaining jobs, lives, relationships, etc. Also a good snapshot of the Williamsburg "indie" scene circa 2004-ish - boy how things have changed (or have they)? Reads as a bit dated in that way. As other reviewers have stated, it was not written as a novel, but serialized in a newspaper, but it holds together pretty well.
Jun 30, 2008 Shannon rated it liked it
Shelves: fluff
Other people might not think it's fluff, but I thought it would go well with Peanut butter, thus the fluff. A cute book about rocking out. Also, I love his appropriation of band names as descriptors--i.e. "That's so Train" for when something is really terrible, because the band Train is definitely the opposite of rocking.
Jeff Raymond
Sep 28, 2010 Jeff Raymond rated it did not like it
I now realize why name-dropping bands left and right in fictional novels is annoying. I also now realize that rock novels aren't all that exciting. I also realize that the amount of Pitchfork name dropping must have made their heads explode. I don't know why I soldiered through this novel, but I did, and I'm no better for it.
This was just an ok book. The story was mildly interesting, but the references to Internet and blogging stuff ruined some of it for me. I also felt like certain things were thrown in without proper build-up or explanation, and the main character didn't feel consistent to me. It wasn't a total waste of time, but it wasn't as good as I thought it might be.
Pascale Pierre
Apr 27, 2008 Pascale Pierre rated it liked it
Recommends it for: patrick, alvaro,Benjamin
this is a cute funny quick read about a young man who moves to new York with dreams of becoming and indie rock star. Easier said than done. Between his emotionally distant girlfriend, his willingness to do ANYTHING to make it, and cool indie song references, this book with make you laugh and keep you entertained.
May 26, 2009 Avocados rated it really liked it
A fun look at current "indie" culture, with plenty of references to all my favorite things, like blogs, burning man and bands. Light, enjoyable read from a long-time favorite blogger. It was very Douglas Coupland, and that's a good thing.
Jul 03, 2008 Virginia rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A fast read. Follows the life of a wannabee rocker in NYC: his youth, blind optimism, and ignorance seem to be his most distinguishing characteristics. The storyline is somewhat predictable, but his bizarre encounters with other characters keep the story moving.
May 09, 2007 rob rated it liked it
I have to admit I love the torrent of indie culture references almost as much as when I read them in Nick Hornby books. I also love Gary's optimism.
May 24, 2016 Christopher rated it really liked it
Good writing, easy read.

It felt like a literary sibling of Microserfs by Douglas Coupland. With a little That Thing You Do thrown in as well.
Kirsty Walker
Aug 18, 2015 Kirsty Walker rated it liked it
Funny and engaging story, one of those books where you start off rolling your eyes at the protagonist but cheering them on by the end.
jonathan berger
May 29, 2007 jonathan berger rated it really liked it
Tore through this one in about three days. I'd been reading the column in the Morning News and was pretty jazzed to find a remaindered paperback copy.
Mar 27, 2007 Peishan rated it really liked it
Hilarious! Makes fun of an indie hipster who will do anything to achieve his dream of being a rock star.
Fanny Lalonde
Fanny Lalonde rated it really liked it
Apr 12, 2012
Marie rated it it was ok
Jan 25, 2010
Steff rated it liked it
Oct 04, 2016
Matthew Burris
Matthew Burris rated it liked it
Apr 05, 2010
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