Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Stripper Lessons” as Want to Read:
Stripper Lessons
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Stripper Lessons

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  158 ratings  ·  12 reviews
John O'Brien's books have established him as a writer who communicated the voice of the loner with blistering realness and unmistakable force. Stripper Lessons is perhaps O'Brien's most interior and intense novel, a powerful story of one man's obsessive search to belong. Here is the dark and simple life of Carroll, a middle-aged, unmarried, friendless man whose only joy is ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 13th 1997 by Grove Press (first published 1997)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Stripper Lessons, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Stripper Lessons

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  158 ratings  ·  12 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Stripper Lessons
May 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: strippers
Compulsively readable novel by the author of "Leaving Las Vegas" which was even more harrowing than the movie upon which it was based, O'Brien describes the terrifying banal life of that saddest of sad cases, the strip club customer who thinks that a dancer really likes him because she allows him to stuff twenty dollar bills into her thong. If O'Brien had lived a couple of decades longer he would have been considered a major American novelist.
Brian Stillman
Mar 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2008
Almost seems fated to appeal to a certain audience - lonely urban based white guys - like the way Pavement is a band only urban white guys can really get into.

An LA novel, a book about the west that should get mentioned right alongside The Day of the Locust or your favorite John Fante or Bukowski or Bruce Wagner and so on.

It's the absolute shits O'Brien couldn't maintain the desire to remain in this world.
Jonathan Sturak
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever felt alone?

Stripper Lessons provides a window into the life of a lonely man. Carroll is the guy who watches the world turn from the shadows, the guy you walk past at the mall, never knowing he was ever there. But that guy was there, watching you walk past.

The story is personal and the plot only occurs over a few days. I wondered why O’Brien chose this part of Carroll’s seemingly repetitious life. But then Stevie dances her way into his world. O’Brien describes the breathtaking
He wrote in such a visceral way. You can feel the atmosphere and the characters in your gut.

I first read this book because I had seen "Leaving Las Vegas". I felt so much sympathy toward Caroll. This is a strange dark little book consisting almost entirely of dialogue. I loved everything about it.


I read a review somewhere, maybe here, that someone did not get the ending. Neither did I. It did seem unfinished somehow. I'd have liked to know if he met her for coffee and if she showed up. I
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
A man trying to figure out his lonely life. The writing is so descriptive that it simply must be read to be understood. The lines regarding the wait outside of a restaurant are currently my favorite written lines..possibly ever. O'Brien's characters stay with you long after the words have been read.
Apr 25, 2009 marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-finish-later
I can't bring myself to finish this novel right now as it's the last one he wrote that I have. It's neurotic but somehow I feel if I finish it then he'll fade to a distant memory.
Zac Johnson
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Think of it as The Old Man and The Sea... in a Strip Club. A challenging read (a lonely man works up the courage to talk to a stripper and confront his boss about a missing file at work -- the end) the brilliance, and its power, are all in the details. Likely a piece O'Brien would have preferred to have spent longer developing, it never-the-less shows just how brilliant a writer he was, and how sorely missed his voice is in modern literature.
Jul 29, 2011 added it
What is incredible about this book is that it is truly a love story. Like Leaving Las Vegas, a love story about two completed non-standard, non-hollywood characters. A geek and a stripper. To see the view he had of what love could be but to know the demons he fought every day, just makes you think.
Sara Bauer
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, sad, and oddly relatable. Experimental at times but impossible to put down. Definitely a recommended read.
Chris Knight
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it
What an odd novel. Depressing, introspective book about a shy, boring office worker who finds some joy in life visiting strip clubs.
Jen Pennington
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loneliness and delusion take center stage in a novel that purposely leaves you feeling a bit awkward and uncomfortable as you walk in Carroll's shoes.
Joseph Hirsch
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Imagine Willy Loman as a file clerk ("senior" file clerk, as the protagonist emphasizes) whose only joy, or at least meaning, turns round the fulcrum of a seedy L.A. strip club named "Sensations."

Carroll, the protagonist of John O'Brien's "Stripper Lessons," is the kind of man who tends to fade into the woodwork wherever he goes. In a strip club setting, he's not the lecherous, leering type who paws the women, violates all the house rules, and demands to be treated like God for holding out a
Jon Oakley
rated it liked it
Sep 05, 2012
rated it liked it
Aug 10, 2013
Denis Lebeux
rated it liked it
Oct 04, 2013
Jonas Tintelnot
rated it it was amazing
Jan 10, 2020
Tom Duffy
rated it really liked it
Jan 27, 2013
Luis Gamez
rated it really liked it
Apr 01, 2017
Michael Wootton
rated it it was amazing
Mar 17, 2011
Marco Brambini
rated it really liked it
Jan 08, 2017
rated it liked it
Aug 23, 2015
Ashley Jones
rated it really liked it
Mar 29, 2015
rated it liked it
Apr 03, 2015
Jennifer Bisaccia
rated it did not like it
Apr 28, 2010
rated it really liked it
Jan 23, 2019
rated it it was ok
Mar 24, 2008
Mark Lacy
rated it really liked it
Apr 10, 2014
rated it liked it
Aug 05, 2019
rated it really liked it
Oct 13, 2008
rated it really liked it
Aug 03, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Black Cloud
  • Beginners
  • Dear Everybody
  • A Puff of Smoke
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
  • The IHOP Papers
  • The Cement Garden
  • No Longer Human
  • That Night
  • Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home
  • Winter Birds
  • Boys of Life
  • Immaculate Blue
  • Where Nightmares Come From
  • Bordsteinkönig
  • Building Intelligent Systems: A Guide to Machine Learning Engineering
  • Writing Scary Scenes
  • Automata
See similar books…
John O'Brien's first novel Leaving Las Vegas was published in 1990 and made into a film of the same name in 1995.

His other three works were published posthumously.


John O'Brien was born in 1960 and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He moved to Los Angeles in 1982 with his then-wife Lisa. During his lifetime, he was a busboy, file clerk, and coffee roaster, but writing was his true calling. He