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Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  12,492 ratings  ·  1,441 reviews
It’s time for eighteen-year-old James Sveck to begin his freshman year at Brown. Instead, he’s surfing the real estate listings, searching for a sanctuary—a nice farmhouse in Kansas, perhaps. Although James lives in twenty-first-century Manhattan, he’s more at home in the faraway worlds of Eric Rohmer or Anthony Trollope—or his favorite writer, the obscure and tragic Dento ...more
Hardcover, 229 pages
Published September 18th 2007 by Frances Foster (first published 2007)
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Devon I haven't read this book in 3 years, but if memory serves, James gives two different reasons in the text for why he did this.

When he first narrates it…more
I haven't read this book in 3 years, but if memory serves, James gives two different reasons in the text for why he did this.

When he first narrates it, he says he just made the profile because it was free, and he had nothing better to do, or something along those lines. But of course, most people wouldn't go to the trouble of creating a detailed dating profile for an imaginary person *just* for that reason; I think it's pretty obvious that James isn't being fully honest with us, and perhaps not with himself either.

Later, when he's trying to explain to John why he did it, he says something along the lines of: "I wanted to be the kind of person that he was interested in". This strikes me as closer to the real reason. Basically, James has a crush on John, but he knows John wouldn't reciprocate - both due to his younger age, and John's apparently high and specific standards of what kind of man he's looking for. So he made the dating profile as kind of a subconscious way to live out a fantasy of being that person.(less)

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Maggie Stiefvater
Jun 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My editor recommended this novel to me and I'm so glad he did.

Peter Cameron does an absolutely stunning job of portraying James' struggles as a too-clever-for-his-own-good teen, disillusioned, cynical, and socially paralyzed. While the plot occasionally wandered and the ending was . . . just where the book stopped, I can still give this book five stars with a clear conscious, for sheer lucidity of voice. I missed James after I was done reading - I felt like I'd met him.

***wondering why all my r
Mike Puma
Aug 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, glbt-fic, ya

4-4.5 stars if reviewed as an adult title.

5 stars if considered a YA title.

I recently watched the film version of The City of Your Final Destination and liked it enough to pick up my copy of this book, by the same author, which has been gathering dust here for a couple months. For whatever reasons, the description on the cover just never seemed compelling enough to pursue the content, and while I could kick myself for putting it off, I find that I’ve now read it at the right time, and like so ma
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Everyone compares this one to Catcher in the Rye, which is interesting to me because I haven’t read Catcher, and I think I would hate it, and yet I completely see why the two books are compared, and I loved Someday This Pain…

James has too many advantages to have the problems that he has. His family has money, an apartment in Manhattan, a part time job at his mother’s gallery, and he’s been accepted to Brown for next year (though not Harvard, Yale, or Columbia). His parents are divorced (though w
Dec 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Egbert
You know, this book is kind of one of the ones that you're more excited about reading than you are after actually having read it. James is one of the most frustrating protagonists ever. He hates everything. His peers, his parents, his life, college(he hates Stanford more than Brown, by the way), his life...did I already mention that? Well, he hates it double.

In fact, one of the only things he doesn't hate is his boss, John, who he has a crush on. Well, no, of course he doesn't say or even acknow
Nov 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a lovely book. The only thing that bothers me is that James is not concerned about money beyond how he would afford a house in the Midwest; it's hard for me to relate to someone so well set up.

But that allows us to focus on what makes him an interesting character (in my opinion, at least). He's so self-aware that he's naive at times--his internal life rich, his external life vacant. I adore him, want to talk him through some of his problems, realizing that I wouldn't get along with him
Dec 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: well-that-sucked

This won’t be going in the favorite pile. It seemed to lead nowhere. The ending was unsatisfying and I was left feeling as if the narrator just stopped narrating. I don’t regret reading it, I just feel like I missed something.

Did I miss something? Was this book really about…nothing?

I was able to take something away from it though.

I learned that I am not the only one that thinks something but can't articulate it.

James, the protagonist in this book very often answers every question with "I don
Oct 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all my peeps on GR
such a lovely book, and such a quirky and interesting look at the pain of adolescence, which is the same as the pain of being human except less covered by layers of fake adaptation (as the book itself points out at some point). james, the protagonist narrator, is barely more adjusted to living in the-world-as-is than christopher of the curious incident of the dog in the night-time , but the novel deftly and lovingly avoids pathologizing his difference. in fact, the only thing we know for sure ...more
Actual rating: 2.5

I stated before that I’d have a tough time rating this novel. That still stands. (It began as a 4-star, then 3, and finally...).

In an effort for me to get my feelings across, I’ve decided to list the following Pros and Cons in an irregular and non-consecutive order (because, like my process of thoughts, it’s a jumbled-fucking-mess).

1. I really connected with the writing. Peter Cameron has a way with words that makes each sentence feel so very real. It just works. I don’t know h
Aug 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to TL by: Christmas present from Shaun couple years ago
Shelves: favorites
I was surprised I ended up finishing this book... the first part of it is slow, but still interesting. Around the middle of the book, something 'clicked' and I read a little faster, eager to see what happened with James.

James is a loner/anti-social... I could relate to this, I kept to myself alot (not the way James does, but I didn't care for the company of most of my peers) and agreed with some of his thinking. I don't know if we would've been friends or not, but we have gotten along fairly wel
Aug 08, 2009 rated it liked it
"Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You" is about James Sveck, an eighteen year old guy who lives in New York City. He is disturbed, possibly gay, and somewhat cynical, just to list a few things. James interests are looking at real estate for places in the west, working at his mom's art gallery, and talking to his grandmother. In this book he creates a fake dating profile to meet up with an older coworker, as well as recounts his traumatic past with his snide therapist.

I heard so many good thin
Apr 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
I had to think about this one for a while, because it is not the kind of book you close and go, ‘woohoo, that was so awesome!’. It is however, thought provoking, superbly written, and an intelligent take on the what it might be like for an smart and sensitive kid in the modern world. James is the main character, he is almost painfully self-aware and so intelligent it sets him apart form others and essentially prohibits him from having normal relationships with people. Initially, I got a strong ‘ ...more
Nov 13, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: precocious disaffected teenagers; immature disaffected adults
Recommended to Jessica by: ginnie
So far -- a few pages in -- I am not really enjoying this, however (a) it's got a great title; (b) Ginnie praised it highly; (c) I waited forever to get it from the library and (d) it's not difficult reading, so I'll persevere a bit longer, and see....


HAH! This got really good: my first laugh-out-loud laugh was on page 33, and from there on out I was pretty much delighted with this quick YA read, though the ending didn't feel satisfying, and just in general I felt the last quarter-or-so of
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by JodiG. for

James Svek doesn't really fit in. He isn't interested in the same things as other eighteen-year-old guys, doesn't even like people his age, and even keeps his family at a distance.

Nobody could blame James for being detached from his family. His father is a bit self-absorbed and seems to feel obligated to spend the little time he does with James. James' mother owns an art gallery and has just returned early from her honeymoon. Her third marriage has ended a
May 24, 2014 added it
Shelves: next-up-list

I just... can't. there are far too many beautiful books out there, and this one was so lofty, dense, overwrought, and had this air of forced intellectualism. It's a wonder, though, because it started out so smoothly and had a nice balance between humor and 'brainy-ish' dialog. Somewhere around the introduction of the therapist, it spun out this painfully arduous reflection on human nature and life, which isn't a bad thing, but it wasn't headed in a direction that i was willing to spend on
Oct 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who liked "speak," "hard love," "mike harte was here," and "animal dreams"
Shelves: queerlyphrased
I just finished this book and I'm still worried about James. I want to put my arms around him. This book is alternately hilarious and haunting. Peter Cameron does an excellent job of conveying the agony and mundaneness of loneliness and unnamed depression. That said, this is not a depressing book; I don't read depressing books. I had to stop reading it while my students did independent work because I would repeatedly burst out laughing. This book is poignant, and it makes you want to read it aga ...more
J. C.
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
Quickly came to realize the main character just needed to get over himself, which made reading the rest of the book tiresome. He's clearly a good writer so I finished it, but can't say the book lived up to the hype it's been getting.
Kate Stericker
I adored this book and am surprised I hadn't heard of it until Goodreads recommended it to me. Cameron's take on the story of a gay teenager coming to terms with his life stands apart from similar books in a way that's hard to describe.
abby 🍁
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: quarantine-reads
A few memorable quotes in here but that's about it. What even happens in this book? I just read it and I don't think I could tell you.
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Really Smart and Moody Teens and the Adults who wish they were teens like James.
Shelves: teen-town
Peter Cameron’s Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You is being touted by some critics as a modern Catcher In The Rye, which in, and of itself, is heady praise, but sells the book short. This book is a pitch perfect literary gem, with a comic precocious hero, James Sveck who is better read than most adults twice his age (this one included). The story spans the James’s summer before admission to Brown University, an event which he is loath to contemplate, and is distracting himself from by house ...more
Jul 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
I just kept waiting on this book to get good, or to just go somewhere. For whatever reason, it just seemed more like a long drawn-out running commentary on a depressed teenage boy’s life for about 6 months. While some of his thoughts and ideas I could relate to, mostly he had a really depressed outlook on life in general, and really just could not look at the bright side of anything. At the end of the book, I’m not even sure he had grown as a person at all. His mom, sister, and pretty much every ...more
Jen Knox
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
I loved the title, but the story was disappointing. Or maybe it was the writing style I didn't like. Cameron's novel feels like a long, drawn-out short story. There are a few insightful moments, but not enough. What bothers me most are the wasted words, which, if pulled out and transfered to a blank document, would probably fill about twenty needless pages.
Katy Elmore
Jul 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Hm...I don't really know what to think of this book. I really enjoyed Cameron's narrative and I think he had some really good insights on what it's like to be mentally distraught/ill and in therapy. Otherwise, though, I think this guy was trying way too hard to make this novel Catcher in the Rye. So just read Catcher in the Rye. It's better.
Sep 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I really liked it in the beginning and I really liked it in the end. The middle part? Heh. Is it a modern version of 'The Catcher in the Rye'? The main characters have some similarities, but James Sveck is a lot more fun (even though he claims he is not) and the writing is much, much better. James' session with his therapist and talks with his Nanette are definitely the best part of the novel. I just wished we explored a lot more with his life pre-Brown.
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: coming-of-age, ya
I rather enjoyed this book. This is supposedly YA, but I like some YA books, and even if I'm already a grown up, I suppose I could still relate to some of James's observations. (See the quotes section for his smart, wry observations). It's structured like a diary, with dates at the beginning of chapters. Another reason why I loved this book is because it is also very funny. I found myself smiling, and sometimes even laughing out loud. For example, when Gillian explains that she wants to be calle ...more
Bibek Thapa
Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you.
– Ovid

I picked up this book because of its title. While a mouthful, the title of the book was interesting, along with the cover, so I thought I’d give it a try. And good thing I did.
The story is about eighteen years of James Sveck, who instead of planning for his freshmen year at Brown is looking at real estate options in Midwest. James doesn’t like people in general; he hates it when people talk just for the sake of talking. All h
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
James Sveck doesn't like people his own age. He has just graduated high school, but instead of listening to his parents and going to Brown University, he would rather buy an old house in the middle of Kansas. Like most eighteen-year-olds, James is incredibly self-involved, but somehow his precociousness makes him endearing as well. Although every other book jacket on the planet claims to have found the modern-day successor to Holden Caulfield, James Sveck is the closest we've come across so far. ...more
Melissa Kidd
This book took me by surprise. I wasn't really sure what it was going to bring but I was very surprised. It's a small novel and it's not developed like longer books are, but every page, every word blew my breath away. It was very very real. I could see myself in these pages. James and I are not identical but we share a lot in common and being able to read his story was something I had never thought possible. How does an author capture all the impossible thoughts, the inner struggles? Cameron doe ...more
Richard Kramer
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended to me AFTER my own book about a gay teen (who's not the main character!) was finished and published. Knowing how hard it is to do that well I think Cameron does it VERY well, indeed. I'm about to read his CORAL GLYNN, and I'm looking forward to it. I withhold a fifth star as I felt the book doesn't quite make it to home plate, or base, or whatever the straight boys say. For me, it's halfway between third and home, and that's a very admirable place to be. That said -- wo ...more
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great book. I have underlined quite a few passages. Sarcasm and deep sentimentality were woven together on so many pages. A very human book, talking about both first world and deeply disturbing problems. I had respect for the fact that Cameron wasn't afraid to show both young, older and elderly adults getting caught up in behaving like jerks at times. And the story made me care. It moved me. Will investigate more by this author.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Peter Cameron (b. 1959) is an award-winning novelist and short story writer. Born in Pompton Plains, New Jersey, he moved to New York City after graduating college in 1982. Cameron began publishing stories in the New Yorker one year later. His numerous award-winning stories for that magazine led to the publicati

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