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You're Not Much Use to Anyone

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David is a freshly minted NYU grad who’s working a not-quite-entry-level job, falling in love, and telling his parents he’s studying for the LSAT. He starts a Tumblr blog, typing out posts on his BlackBerry under his desk—a blog that becomes wildly popular and brings him to the attention of major media (The New York Times) as well as the White House. But his outward fame doesn’t quell his confusion about the world and his direction in it.

This semiautobiographical debut is a coming-of-age story perfect for our time. In A Sense of Direction author Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s words, “If Tao Lin had been born to Gary Shteyngart’s parents and spent his early twenties slaving for pageviews at NewYorker.com, he would have written something like this, the Bright Lights, Big City of the click-here-now generation.”

214 pages, Hardcover

First published July 22, 2014

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David Shapiro

16 books4 followers

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5 stars
49 (11%)
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84 (20%)
3 stars
145 (34%)
2 stars
88 (21%)
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49 (11%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 74 reviews
Profile Image for Julie Ehlers.
1,111 reviews1,415 followers
June 2, 2016
Imaginary conversation between David Shapiro and his publisher:
Amazon Publishing: Hey, David. So glad I was able to get you on the phone. Listen, I hear you have a Tumblr with over 30,000 followers and that you are, in particular, very popular with other Brooklyn hipsters like yourself. This is exactly the sort of buzzy project we really need to launch our trade publishing program! How about you write a novel for us?

David Shapiro: [Thinks for a minute.] I don't know if I'm qualified to write a whole book. Before my Tumblr I never really wrote at all, just term papers for high school and college. And as you can see, the writing on my Tumblr is really amateurish. If I did try to write a novel, I doubt it would be any good.

Amazon: Good? What does "good" have to do with it?

The whole time I was reading this novel, I kept thinking of a song Ani DiFranco released in 1995. Called "The Million You Never Made," it was about how major labels kept wanting to sign her and she kept turning them down, preferring to stay independent. The particular lines that kept running through my head were: "Yeah, I'd like to go to all the pretty parties/Where all the pretty people go/And I ain't really all that pretty/But nobody will know." In other words, if there's enough hype surrounding someone, you can get people to believe anything. You can get them to believe you're pretty even if you've never been considered pretty before. By the same token, you can get people to believe you're a good writer, even if you're actually no kind of writer at all. Or that seems to be the hope, anyway.

In this heavily autobiographical novel, the main character, David Shapiro, starts a Tumblr that, mainly through luck, gains a small but relatively significant following. Based on this following, he is featured in the New York Times and Washington Post, which increases his following to the aforementioned 30,000 and enables him to participate in "blog readings" in Brooklyn. Then one day (spoiler alert!) he posts his usual morning entry but is unable to come up with a topic for his usual afternoon entry. So he decides to end the blog. That's it. Oh, and along the way he dates a couple of girls and gets really angry with one of them for being accepted to the prestigious MacDowell colony, because it means she'll be out of town for two months and he won't have anyone to have sex with. Asshole.

Now, of course, a good writer can work with even as unpromising a topic as this one. And that's where the wheels really fall off, because David Shapiro isn't a good writer. He just isn't. I guarantee that if you had led David Shapiro's life, you could have written about it at least as well as he did, and many of you could have written it better. Much better. The writing is flat and unskilled and although there are a couple of funny moments, it's hard to tell if they're intentional. In fact, nothing about this novel seems intentional: While I was reading it and marveling at how terrible it was, I actually wondered if Shapiro was making it intentionally terrible to make some sort of statement about millennials. Of course, I think if a reader has to ask herself that question then something has probably gone horribly wrong anyway, but in this case I was giving Shapiro too much credit. This novel is just plain old terrible.

To be fair, Shapiro seems to realize he's not a good writer. On his Tumblr, he indicates this book took two and a half years to edit, which makes me wonder what kind of nightmare the first draft was. He also says You're Not Much Use to Anyone is his "first and last" book, and that he is now going to law school, which his parents begged him to do throughout the novel, and which is apparently what he really wanted to do all along. Now that sounds like an interesting idea for a novel: Someone who's never wanted to write before lucks into a popular Tumblr and a book deal, which makes him the envy of all his Brooklyn hipster writer friends, but in the end he decides it's not for him and he'd rather take the more conventional route of law school. That inner struggle, and the reactions of his various friends, could make for really interesting reading. Of course, the catch-22 is that you'd need an actual good writer to write it.

Honestly, this book shouldn't have seen the light of day. I'm angry that I spent this much time thinking about it, but if I can save any of you from the mistake of picking this up, it will have been worth it.

I received this book via a First Reads giveaway here on Goodreads.

10/28/14: Y'all, this book was terrible. Full review to come.
277 reviews1 follower
August 8, 2014
I'm glad I got this out of the library, cause it ain't worth a dollar. Seriously, it's a lightly fictionalized version of the authors tumblr blog that reviewed Pitchfork reviews. He had a small modicum of success from it, but so what. The story is paper thin, and the narrate atom is the most narcissistic self possessed douchebag I've read in a long time. He must have checked his hair 50 times in the damn book. seriously, stay way
Profile Image for Hank Stuever.
Author 3 books2,016 followers
June 1, 2015
Pathetic. (And yes, I do get it: it's about alt-lit, it's about the flat voice of the mind's constant status-updates, it's about how this generation is different to the bone than the previous ones, etc.) This is just a badly conceived, badly executed book -- why is it even a book? Is there a _less_ friendly platform for this kind of project?

But that's not the real question here. The real question is all on me: Why do I keep getting suckered into reading these kinds of stories. I need to BE STRONGER and resist.
Profile Image for Megan K..
53 reviews
October 6, 2014
I like alt-lit and You're Not Much Use to Anyone is no exception. Alt-lit is generally characterized by its matter of fact style and also the inclusion of modern technology. It feels like Minimalism must have felt in the 60s. Stripped down to nothing but lines and the space between. It makes me feel like you have to work for an emotional connection and if you can make one then it is one you've earned not one that was handed to you.

That is the review I wanted to write. But considering the recent media attention the "alt-lit scene" has been getting I couldn't just say that and nothing else.

The past few weeks two big players in the "alt-lit scene", Tao Lin and Stephen Tully Dierks have been accused publicly of rape. I'm not going to discuss whether or not I think they are guilty (they probably are) but rather am going to point out that there is a patriarchy problem in the "scene" that has been brought to light by the recent media attention. I have a lot of complicated feelings about this; mainly that it isn't surprising. I'm not sure how we can expect a bunch of primarily white male writers to not be sexist, racist, and homophobic when pretty much all of the publishing industry seems to be at least insofar as what it chooses to publish.

There is definitely an undercurrent of sexism in the alt-lit written by men. But to be fair there is an undercurrent of sexism in a lot of literature written by men. I don't say that to excuse the sexism present in books of this genre but to point out that we all read sexist books all the time and we rarely if ever comment on them. I feel weird about liking this book and other alt-lit novels now that I've been forced to really think about what these writers represent.

It is important to be critical always, about all media you consume. It isn't always easy. And sometimes finding the balance between enjoying something despite its problems (for example, I love the television show Girls) and deciding you do not want to support something that is not inline with your values (I definitely won't be buying any Tao Lin books) can be very difficult. But I have a real problem with people who have never read alt-lit and who have never publicly decried the sexism inherent in publishing as a whole all of a sudden taking this huge stand against this particular instance of patriarchy. (I get that denying access to women writers and rape are two vastly different things and it is possible to be outraged by the rape of women and less outraged by the lack of women writers who are being published but the root of the problem is the same. And an inability to recognize that and speak out against patriarchy as a whole really undermines your outrage about the rape accusations being levied against Tao Lin and Stephen Tully Dierks. You can't be on the side of women only when it is convenient for your or maybe even beneficial for you and be taken seriously.)

I think alt-lit as it existed last week is now dead (which is seemingly for the best) but I hope that the style of writing survives. That women and people of color and trans people and gays and lesbians who write what might be considered alt-lit can get their work published because at the end of the day I am more interested in what they have to say anyway.
Profile Image for Dirty Dayna.
1,693 reviews97 followers
July 18, 2014

2 #poorrichwhitekid stars
I received this ARC via netgalley and the publisher New Harvest for an Honest Review.
This book is deemed semi-autobiographical which makes me think parts are either dramatized (maybe meeting Obama? ) or made up and I can’t really decipher which. While the book does approach a fairly new topic of blogger famous it doesn’t come out as “very funny” which I was expecting.
This seems to follow the author on his transition from student to blogger to internet famous. There is no sexual comedy like I hope they Serve beer in hell by Tucker Max or the funny humor of the book twenty something life by Aaron Karo . This was just a story of someones thoughts on internet fame, living loving losing in NYC and having his parents pay for his partying.
It seems Shapiro is still trying to find himself and that is the lesson he is trying to portray. Fame doesn’t bring answers, security or emotional attachments. IF that is the goal than it was met
I think if I was a following of Shapiro’s Tumblr I may be more emotionally involved in him but to me the semi autobiography of 224 pages is just boring.
For a kindle book of 6 $/ hardback of 16 $ ( or the new unlimited reading kindle concept would make it free) I was expecting so much more.
Profile Image for Angelina.
14 reviews2 followers
November 15, 2014
self centered emotionally stunted view of the world from a boy playing at adulthood. written like a 15 year old. still, an easy read that does say something, though nothing i particularly wanted to hear.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,514 reviews29.5k followers
March 29, 2014
Full disclosure: I received an advance readers copy of this book from NetGalleys in exchange for an unbiased review.

The last year of college is often fun, but the level of tension and uncertainty ratchets up for many students. There is often uncertainty—even fear—about what you're going to do with the rest of your life, where the money to support you will come from (if you aren't working while going to school), even what will become of the relationships you have. And unless you have a job lined up after college, you're often suffering from some general insecurity as well.

David Shapiro, in his autobiographical novel You're Not Much Use to Anyone, is suffering from all of those feelings. After graduating early from NYU, he doesn't know what he wants to do with his life (although his parents, who are supporting him financially, expect him to go to law school). He's a little insecure about himself physically, and his self-esteem only seems to blossom when he's in a relationship. But he's not quite willing to give himself entirely to relationships, and whenever one of his girlfriends leaves for a job opportunity or something else, he's ready to end the relationship instead of dealing with worries about her cheating on him with someone better.

David gets a job working in the file room of a large company, although it's clear to everyone he's tremendously overqualified for what he does. But it's a good way to make money of his own, and allegedly study for the LSATs. Plus, he can pacify his demanding mother and his conspiracy theory-prone father.

The one thing David is passionate about is the music review site Pitchfork. So many of the reviews he reads on the site infuriate him, and he resents the power this website has to destroy the career of up and coming bands with negative reviews, and build up a less deserving band (in David's mind) with hype and praise. So after ranting about Pitchfork to anyone who will listen, he decides to set up his own Tumblr blog in which he reviews Pitchfork reviews, called Pitchfork Reviews Reviews. Of course, he doesn't have a computer, so he types up the entries surreptitiously on his Blackberry and sends them to his roommate, who posts them on David's behalf. (But no one can no that.)

Before long, David's Tumblr blog has become quite popular, and even the media has taken interest. However, his insecurity hasn't changed, as he takes any negative comments personally. The success of his site doesn't lessen his anxiety that he might lose his job or that his parents might make him stop writing and demand he apply to law school. And it doesn't solve his romantic problems either. What's a guy to do?

You're Not Much Use to Anyone accurately captured the anxieties and insecurities of a recent college graduate, and did so with a lot of humor and emotion. Shapiro doesn't paint himself as a wholly sympathetic character—at times his inability to identify with his girlfriends' moods made it difficult to feel sorry for him when the relationships went awry. But he's definitely an amusing character, and his adventures (such as they were) made for a fun read. And now that I've finished the book, I wonder just how autobiographical this "novel" really is—were only the names changed to protect the innocent, or were some of the situations fictionalized as well? (It doesn't matter, I'm just curious.)
Profile Image for Brett.
25 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2017
Usually after I've finished a book I don't expect to read again I'll drop it off in one of the neighborhood free library boxes. I was on my way to do that after finishing this one, but the recycling bin was closer...
Profile Image for Angie.
264 reviews6 followers
June 17, 2014
Oh the irony of this title.

I'm not sure what the point of this whole thing was supposed to be. The reviews that greet you the minute you open the file all talk of it being "funny, piercingly honest..." and "very funny and deeply moving..."

Did we read the same book? There was humor in this book? Did I miss it? The piece I read wasn't funny or "piercingly honest" or whatever other blurbs are being thrown at this one. Maybe I just didn't get it. Maybe it's too "inside" of a world I'm very far on the outside of - New York, indie music snobbery, caring about being popular on the internet.

I made a note somewhere in the first thirty or so pages that simply read "Asperger's???" The voice of our narrator checked off a lot of the aspie boxes: taking everything completely literal, zero grey area, little empathy or awareness of the emotions of others, excelling at or fixating over one particular thing. This is brought up toward the end of the book when online reviews of the protagonist's online reviews (because it's OH SO VERY meta in that way) asks the same questions. Does this kid have Asperger's? I don't know. I'm not an expert and the answer is not decided within the pages of this book. It does, however, feel that way to someone who knows a little about it and has done some basic research on the subject. (Pss, that someone is me.)

This was another of those books that I got to the end and thought "So what?" What was this book trying to say? Commentary on internet fame? Eh. Insights into love in NYC in your early twenties? Meh. A display of utter and complete unchecked privilege in a world where people are working harder than this kid ever will? Bah.

I didn't get the fuss. I let it marinade for a bit and still don't get it. Why am I supposed to care about someone whose parents pay for everything, from his schooling to his rent to his cell phone bill while he's getting drunk, stoned, sleeping with girls and lying about his intent to study for his LSATs? Again, who cares?

Profile Image for Shannon Daigle.
60 reviews
December 2, 2014
At first I was engaged, but ultimately I just couldn't get on board with the plight of the millennial. This one went back to the library half-read.
Profile Image for Anna Van Someren.
171 reviews6 followers
September 23, 2018
Yeah. 4 stars. Because I couldn't wait to get back to it, all the time. I loved it. I don't understand you haters. This book was real talk. Plus it made me laugh out loud 7 or 8 times. Super-easy read, and ok no, it's not deep. But do I have to be torn apart by every novel I read? Does it have to be devastating to get 4 stars? Does it have to be A Little Life? Jesus! No. And I saw someone said this book is "lightly fictionalized" so maybe it's mostly true, and this David Shapiro just wrote down what happened to him, but I don't really care. I guess I'll go Google David Shapiro and find out if he had an indie music tumblr, but my rating stands.
Profile Image for Mike Kleine.
Author 20 books147 followers
August 3, 2018
More like 3.5 stars really. I wouldn't consider this "essential reading". If anything--it's easy to read. Kind of just goes nowhere, which I sort of expected; but it REALLY goes nowhere.

The ending kinda destroys how good this could have been.
Profile Image for Nicole (A Library of Sorts).
147 reviews3 followers
August 19, 2014
1.5/5 stars

First, I want to make this clear. I do not regularly read memoirs or autobiographies, but the premise of You’re Not Much Use to Anyone was interesting to me. The book is about David Shapiro who created a famous Tumblr called Pitchfork Reviews Reviews. David would write reviews on the music website Pitchfork’s reviews. You’re Not Much Use to Anyone goes through David’s life after graduating from college, gaining a girlfriend, working a job he doesn’t particularly like, writing blog posts, and meeting new people while he lives in New York. What really got my attention was the fact that this was a 20-something year old who doesn’t know what he wants to do now. I can relate.

And that is all I can relate to.I feel weird saying this because David is an actual person, but I did not like David. He seemed pretty narcissistic. He mentioned fixing his hair so many times, it was a little ridiculous. David didn’t really talk about any feelings. This book would be a great example for the Show vs. Tell lesson (or maybe that lesson is only for fiction…but I feel like that’s not the case). The chapters are typically short, some being only a paragraph, which was interesting and would have made it a quick read if I didn’t have such a hard time reading through David’s explanations (again, telling and not showing much).

I found myself wondering about other people in the story: Mike, David’s parents, Emma, and Alexandra. I was especially interested in the relationship between David and his dad. I do not learn much, and I wished I could have read David’s thoughts on his relationship with his father. However, those scenes usually ended with and he hung up the phone and on to the next chapter.

The book is full of references to David’s Tumblr, but there are no examples of his Tumblr posts. I feel that at least one would be nice. I read about him writing them, how and when, how many followers he gets, etc., but I never saw one post which was strange.

I think my main problem with this was his views on Emma and Alexandra. I don’t know if this is how he sees women, but David was constantly thinking that they would sleep with any guy the moment he left them (To clarify, he dated these women at different times.) For example, with Emma he wrote how he didn’t want to visit her while she was in California working at a far for seven months because he would wonder if she was sleeping with the men she worked with. With Alexandra who was going to be gone for only 2 months, he wrote about how she shouldn’t leave him because he wouldn’t have anyone to have sex with. What he doesn’t seem to understand is both of these women were leaving to do something they were passionate about. Emma with the farm and Alexandra with her writing. They would be gone temporarily, and all he thinks about is sex. When Alexandra is gone, he starts thinking of Emma right away, thinking (and definitely wanting) to have sex with her, and Emma was not okay with this new side of him. He doesn’t support his girlfriends or even care about them, and he wonders why the relationships always end.

I became so frustrated with David which made this book so hard to read. Maybe it would have been different if I could have learned more about other people, but I only had the chance to learn about David. The book was difficult but those last 30 or so pages really took the cake.

There is a line in this book that I highlighted and wrote I’m really hoping this will not be how I sum up this book because that’s how I’m feeling right now. Sadly, it is the best way to summarize and I’ll end my review with it. David has just told a story about a vodka commercial to a few people at a party and he gets an awkward silence. Thinking to himself about it he says:

“My story didn’t really have a point or a punch line” (6).

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

Reading Dates: August 5-17, 2014
Profile Image for Byron.
Author 9 books100 followers
July 11, 2014
I found this to be surprisingly well-written, for someone who became (not really) famous for writing essentially the equivalent of a LiveJournal. Essentially, it does for novels what the show Girls does for TV shows, both for better and for worse.

On a certain level, this isn't anything other than a barely fictionalized account of some kid graduating from college, taking a shitty job and writing a blog in his spare time, and in that sense, I get the complaints. He wasn't involved in some terrifying or titillating crime, he didn't go so much as a day without having lunch, and finding a job -- even at the height of The Great Recession -- was merely a matter of having his mom call one of her friends.

As a child of relative privilege, who followed more or less the exact same career path maybe five years before (I'm the Moe Greene to David Shapiro's Michael Corleone, complete with eye problems and complaints about cheerleaders), I couldn't relate to hardly any of this shit. You're Not Much Use to Anyone is true white privilege on display, not so much because the protagonist lives such a charmed existence, working some 28k a year bureaucrat job, typing blog entries on a Blackberry on the train on the way to work, but because of the amount of effort he's required to put forth.

It does seem like this is dramatized to a certain degree, with things like the description of his job with the fire department pension fund, which supposedly didn't involve anything than taking folders and placing them in file cabinets after someone else typed them into a computer, or the time when someone just randomly asked him if he'd like to meet the president, and he famously asked Barack Obama if he reads Pitchfork. (To think, he could have got us reparations.) This encounter actually wasn't so random, in the sense that opportunities like that are distributed via networks of rich, white private school kids. Which conveniently brings me to my next point.

It'll probably be lost on people who don't have some experience working in the media -- if such a person ever reads this book -- that there must be some other aspect of David Shapiro that goes completely unacknowledged, let alone examined here, i.e. David Shapiro the savvy, cynical career builder. Blogging about Pitchfork is portrayed here is a matter of him being upset about something they wrote about Belle and Sebastian or whatever, and on a certain level maybe it was, but it's also a complex game involving mentioning people's names in order to bring yourself to their attention and then trying to ingratiate yourself to them, for the purposes of career advancement. Maybe he did start Pitchfork Reviews Reviews on a whim, but it didn't become what it was by chance. This guy's not as hapless as he presents himself here. Notice how he's supposedly dragged kicking and screaming to that blog post reading event by his friend, but then he attends umpteen other similar events over the course of this book.
Profile Image for Peter Knox.
606 reviews74 followers
June 15, 2015
I saw the buzz and interviews, knew the subject and author, and impulse bought at $2 for Kindle then needed a book to read one day. I read this straight through in that one day.

It was enjoyable and entertaining in the way that everyone has a graduating college and figuring things out through finding jobs and relationships while exploring what it all means to discover your passion and how that affects your job and relationships.

This funny refreshing honest self aware first person take on all that does true justice to stumbling along that personal journey while recording the highs and lows along the way.

For anyone (me) that remembered the early days of Tumblr and media and blogger readings and awkward interactions that led to dating and roommates and being poor but feeling rich in the things that mattered, this novel will work for them. I'm glad I read it, lived it, and can look back on it fondly through the nostalgic lens of having survived it and thriving in the process.
Profile Image for Madeline.
61 reviews6 followers
January 27, 2018
There should be some sort of law in publishing that you can't write about yourself at 22 until you're out of your 20s. This book is like every smug guy who has ever cornered me at a house party to mansplain music and pop culture.

Because it's a thinly veiled memoir, I feel bad giving only one star, so I'll give an extra pity star along with the list of most cringeworthy quotes:

"I catch up to her and we ride east as the sun sets in front of us, which looks really sick, and I tell her about why I love riding a fixed gear bike: 'it feels more intuitive and more connected to the road than bikes with gears. It feels very natural and like an almost primordial way of riding a bike.'"

"Because they're punks and we're hipsters and real punks hate hipsters."

"I walked home from work that day and listened to 'Fuck Tha World' by Lil Wayne and cried on the phone to my dad, who said I needed to go to law school so stuff like this wouldn't happen to me anymore."

Profile Image for Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies.
948 reviews107 followers
July 29, 2014
This was good. I read some reviews that it was whatever but I really liked it. Flew through it actually. Easy straight forward read. A guy, the author, as it's clearly based on his life, is a newly graduated kid who is living off his parents still even though he lives on his own and he is putting off law school and ends up getting a job where he's able to write a blog about a website that is all reviews of bands that he has an opinion on too. It gets huge and he gets interviewed but it's also about his relationships with girls. Nothing new there but I loved the writing style. I loved the minute to minute of what was going on with this guy and also how it flew seamlessly from one thing to another. I think it took place over 6 months or so. Anyway, I really liked the book.
Profile Image for Mike.
107 reviews1 follower
September 2, 2015
Millennial hipsters smoking and blogging and complaining in New York City. Wow, that basically encapsulates everything I dislike in the world.

Oddly, this book is shockingly earnest. Do millennials not do irony? Or maybe it is so drenched in irony that I missed it.
Profile Image for Maddy Kissling.
18 reviews
August 19, 2014
Very self indulgent drek. We get it, you like Belle and Sebastian and smelling your girlfriend's hair and your privacy. That doesn't warrant you writing a thinly veiled autobiographical novel.
January 28, 2015
DNF Only gave it one star because I couldn't award 0. This book honestly had nothing going for it, in my opinion. I actually paid for this. It wasn't a lot, but it was too much.
Profile Image for Adam Witt.
Author 2 books9 followers
March 9, 2019
The antipathy toward this book makes a lot of sense: David Shapiro's writing can be a little cloying (such privilege and lack of gratitude), a lot deadpan, a lot more misogynistic, and is, through-and-through, millennial. It ends up becoming much more than the sum of its parts.

Boy meets girl, boy makes blog, boy's blog becomes very successful and he ends up internet-famous, boy is not very kind to girls he meets, book kind of ends. It smacks of a less-nihilistic, flatter Chuck Palahniuk: you're either going to come in knowing what you're going to get, and get it -- or you're going to go in and come out pretty annoyed.

Assessing the book as a mountain of misogyny and privilege is accurate, to be minimal about it. The interesting parts come in the over-examination of modern-day neurotic kids: he got "famous" at twenty-one after a premature (truly, pre-maturity) college graduation, started a blog taking Pitchfork Media (now just Pitchfork, The Most Trusted Voice In Music or somesuch) to task for... something or another, and ended up too big for his britches. What culminates here is exactly what a lot of reviews lament: White Guy Stares At Shoes. It's not much use to anyone.

David's issues with his parents -- he can't relate to them and doesn't really try, but they pay his rent -- are interesting. He doesn't want to let them down, but he doesn't want to do what they're pressuring him to do. The intermittent phone calls to his parents are always worth reading and, often, are entertaining.

The tiny details of wandering around New York in a kind of unimpressed fog of twenty-somethingism work for this book far better than they should. David's pretensions and assumptions carry him around and he becomes a bit of a slave to them -- if he wasn't already. To watch him oscillate from these moments, criticizing crust-punks and fellow Tumblr writers, to teaching the husband of a co-worker how to surf the internet for porn without being detected, show the underlying heart of the book.

The book is almost cold in its sincerity. The irony is absent in the words themselves, but present in the events they perpetuate. As far as alt-lit goes, this isn't the factory-standard that, hilariously enough, that genre tends to churn out. Could this have just been a Medium post series? Sure. Is it an effective book? Yes. Is the book worth reading? Also yes, especially in the face of alt-lit. It reads less like an attack on its readers than Tao Lin's irony-plastered screeds, and more like exactly what it advertises itself as: this thing about this guy who had a website where he wrote about a website. It's a fast read, it might be fun if your mileage allows, and you might be able to look past its flaws (large as they may be) to find the redeeming bits.

It's not a basket of intrigue; it doesn't try to be. It doesn't try to be anything other than what it advertises. Is that its intrinsic problem? You be the judge.
Profile Image for Anna Mosca.
Author 4 books8 followers
July 13, 2020
I got to the end of this, all along wondering why... I’m not sure how I got this book in my list, probably some algorithm, but for sure I never felt it was a must read, a masterpiece or something that lines up with my usual readings. So why? Here and there the story picks up a bit but other than that the main character is this boring, paranoid, pimple faced teenager, wanna be Woody Allen when Woody Allen talks about himself. Toward the end, in spite of his successes his true character comes to light, a narcissistic, confused teenager forever kid, unable to love a woman or a girl of any type. Rebuttable. All he thinks about is himself and there’s no way you want to be on his team in spite of whatever success he may have gained. His loneliness has to do with him being so out of touch with himself as with others.
4 reviews
May 6, 2019
I appreciated the perspective and reading something set in the early days of Tumblr.
Profile Image for Lena.
79 reviews19 followers
August 28, 2014
I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I’m torn between describing David Shapiro’s debut novel, You’re Not Much Use to Anyone, as the oft told tale of directionless affluent kids living off their parent’s money while trying to orient themselves or the confessions of a self-aware awkward new adult.

David, the protagonist, comes off as the less manic version of Hannah from Lena Dunham’s Girls. His tone borders on detached when discussing his girlfriends or the direction he wants his life to go (law school), but about the time I wonder if he’s on a spectrum, he’ll drop a poignant and redemptive morsel such as “I remind myself that coolness is just a characteristic people ascribe to people who they only observe from afar, and that nobody is actually cool once you get to know them, and especially not people who are really concerned about how they’re dressed, but knowing that something is true and acting on it are different obviously.”

His detached nature changes when discussing a music review site called Pitchfork Reviews. A site David loathes, his disgust the closest to passion and excitement he’ll have the entire story. In response to another diatribe about the site, his girlfriend suggests he start a blog discussing the reviews on Pitchfork Reviews. He does, called Pitchfork Reviews Reviews.

The blog is part of the semi-autobiographical piece of You’re Not Much Use to Anyone. The author Shapiro began Pitchfork Reviews Reviews in 2010, a blog dedicated to giving a counter-voice to the reviews of indie music on Pitchfork. How much of the rest of the story is true versus fiction is known to David and his friends. In several interviews I’ve read, the author says he’s honest whereas David in the book has no qualms about mythologizing his career to people he meets.

The book reads more like a well-written diary versus a work of fiction, absent are character transformations or plot, in their place are David washing his face and being disappointed with his life. The most interesting details followed the progress of David’s blog from a few hundred followers to thousands and the writer’s block that finishes off his posts. David’s journey with his blog emphasized that success isn’t luck, it’s hard work, and David worked hard, posting multiple times a day, that’s a lot of writing and all executed on a mobile phone.

I recommend the book for freshly minted college grads, those idealized souls deposited from their campus quads into the difficult world of finding a job, hoping it’s a passion, but confronting the reality that rent is due and food costs more than one ever imagined, and folding shirts at the Gap might just have to do for now.

~originally posted at PageCravings.com
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