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Design Flaws of the Human Condition
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Design Flaws of the Human Condition

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  272 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
As can only happen in New York, two strangers find themselves railroaded into an anger-management class, where they soon become fast friends. Iris is there because of an eminently justifiable meltdown on a crowded flight, whereas Ken got caught defacing library books with rude (but true!) messages about his former boyfriend. The boyfriend that he caught in bed with another ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published July 17th 2007 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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I am, apparently, irredeemably shallow. How else to explain how much I enjoyed this book? A "Will and Grace"-type story about the floundering relationships of self-involved Manhattan dwellers. Cheating boyfriends, loathsome lawyers, anger management classes* .... The wannabe "serious reader" inside my head groaned every time I picked it up. When my copy of "The Savage Detectives" has been lying there unopened for several months now.

So be it. To be useful, our reviews here need to reflect how we
Mar 12, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who passionately enjoy "Will & Grace"
Shelves: 2008
a girl meets her new gay-guy best friend in an unfortunate anger management class and they team up to figure out what went wrong--or is going wrong--in their romantic lives.

meh. The style of humor and, well, the plot didn't appeal to me. I didn't find the characters relate-able and the writing was a little bit full-of-itself for my taste. I made it about 2/3 of the way through and even though I usually push through if I get this far in a book, if only out of sheer stubbornness, I quit. Or rathe
Dani Meehan
Mar 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Quick funny read. I want to be friends with these people.
Carl R.
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul Schmidtberger’s first novel, Design Flaws of the Human Condition, came to my attention via my friend and neighbor who is also the author’s aunt. Thanks, Janice, for the heads up.
Design Flaws is constructed in the manner of an 18th-19th century farce complete with our omniscient author manipulating the characters into improbable coincidences in full view of us dear readers. We get witty, Fielding-like chapter headings (“In which Iris Unwisely Disregards the Captain’s Advice to Sit Back, Re
David Hallman
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s not that I would say, “Gee, I wish I’d written that book.”

It’s more that I would say, “Gee, I wish I could write my books like that.”

Paul Schmidtberger’s “Design Flaws of the Human Condition” is written with an enviable wit, capacity for surprise, and astute observation of human foibles. The characters are finely drawn in part through detailed descriptions of their idiosyncratic behaviour and in part through Schmidtberger’s relating of their internal monologues.

But whereas too many of us
This was an utterly charming read. I loved the characters, I enjoyed the breezy tone of the book, I marveled at the accurate depiction of the unique hell that is proofreading prospectuses. I needed a book like this after the more serious things I'd been reading, what with the bleak Britishness and the apocalyptic happenings. The pacing made this a pretty quick read; the likability of the main characters and their cheating ex- and soon-to-be-ex-significant others made it an enjoyable one.

So why t
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick, quirky, fun. I read most of this book while a passenger on an otherwise boring car trip. I'm not sure if I amused or annoyed the driver by bursting into loud laughter at regular intervals, but I wasn't about to stop.

The book was a nice mix of silliness and serious thought. Not particularly deep serious thought, perhaps, but real. The questions raised about relationships, learning through them, growing out of them, seeking them despite past failures and probable future failures... those ar
Ann Rufo
A thoroughly enjoyable quick read with some great one-liners, funny subplots, and poignant insights along the way. I picked it up for the humor, but what kept me reading and thinking about it was the really honest, simple way he describes the situation of the main characters, namely being cheated on in their relationship, a fact made uniquely devastating by the realization that the "cheaters" were not the stereotypically cold, evil, heartless excuses of human wreckage we wanted them to be, but r ...more
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got the book yesterday and I just tore through it in a couple of hours- I don't know about you, but there is nothing better than picking up a good book and just completely losing yourself in it. I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone- Paul Schmidtberger weaves a tale that makes you want to live between the pages. It was a quirky read that followed Iris and Ken, two friends, as they struggle with "design flaws" of their peers- especially Iris' boyfriend Jeremy and Ken's ex-boyfriend ...more
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was really torn between 4 and 5 stars for this book, but it lost some steam in the middle (or maybe it just started so furiously funny that I expected the impossible) and had some lengths, so I settled on 4. Other than that, though, it's funny, the writing and Schmidtberger's way with words are brilliant, and the inner monologues are fantastic. They were so good that I was going to copy and paste some here, but I don't want to give away anything to those who haven't read this.

There are also s
Venessa (PebbleCafe)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've made snide comments about trendy-people-living-trendy-lives-in-Manhattan books before, so I kinda went into this ready to arch a skeptical eyebrow and/or lay the withering smackdown. But actually this turned out to be the most purely enjoyable book I've read in a long time. The writing is bright and bitchy, sometimes a bit too bitchy, but the story is about a woman and a cabal of gay men she recruits in an anger-management class to follow her current squeeze around because she thinks he's c ...more
Jul 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ken Connolly is not having a good day. After getting fired from 1 of his 3 jobs, he arrives home unexpectedly early to find his aspiring actor boyfriend, Brett, in a compromising position with another man. Ken soon finds himself forced to enroll in an anger management class where he meets Iris, who suspects her boyfriend, Jeremy, may be philandering, as well. The two become fast friends and join forces to secretly keep tabs on each other's significant other (or in the case of Ken, "former" signi ...more
Marlowe Camblin
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty quick read, and worth checking out. I thought that it was well-written and funny. I definitely laughed out loud at more than one scene. I think that the characters could've been better developed, same with the plot. While the plot was good, and appropriate for the length of the story, it seems a little flat to me, looking back. There were some good themes going that could've been better throughout the story. In the end, though, I believe the book is supposed to be light-hearted and humoro ...more
Jul 28, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my past life as a book buyer I once picked up a galley of this book. Then it sat on my bookshelf while I got lost in the sinkhole of grad school. Now that I'm back, this was one of the first things I pulled off my shelf and I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading it.

An engaging read, interesting character interactions and I've always enjoyed books with slightly descriptive chapter titles like: Chapter 11- In which Ken defies inertia and indifference to steer a course toward friendship with
Apr 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in one day when i was home sick. Really fast read. author has a great sense of humor but there were certainly moments of social responsibility stuffed in, in a few places.

One of my favorite lines in the book is where the characters are in an anger management class and playing a card game that is set up so that they are all losing. They have to record how they are feeling throughout the game. One person's response is, "I am feeling emotionally mortgaged." So ridiculous and yet so
Damian Serbu
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I only had one major disappoint with this book: when it ended, I wanted to read more! And then found out that Schmidtberger hasn't published anything else! This is a very funny book! Yet it is also touching, which is an interesting blend of emotions brought together here. I read it on vacation and could not have been more pleased with something to think about, distract, and entertain. I can't recommend this book enough.
What a sweet, funny little novel. Great for beach reading. Lots of laugh-out-loud moments on the bus. All the characters are likeable and relatable. The only thing that really detracted from it for me is the prologue/epilogue (mostly the epilogue), which added a kind of dark, sinister note to an otherwise light, frothy comedy. It's clearly meant to be funny, but for me it just struck a wrong chord. Overall, though, totally worth it!
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: do-not-reread
While I found this book to be an enjoyable read it was not my favorite. It just seemed to meander along. I didn't have that need to pick it up again and find out what would happen to the characters so I probably wouldn't have finished it if I wasn't doing a reading challenge. But, that being said, I am glad I finished it.
Nov 27, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: vacationers
It's a candy pop version of a novel...cutesy, catchy, and you get the characters stuck in your head. I enjoyed it, but I also read it on my honeymoon, after a nasty fall and subsequent injury, so maybe I wasn't in the best, most thoughtful mood.

However, it's cute, it's funny and quaint. You might want to read it if you're at an airport.
Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was surprised I liked this book. I don't even remember why I picked it up, it's SO not something I would normally read. But I did!

It's a quick read, endearing, funny and witty. The author has a strong personality in his writing that shows through and it helps draw you in. I really recommend this.
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the writing style of this book. I really enjoyed how Schmidtberger described everyday humor. I wasn't really that big a fan of the ending of the book - I wish most loose ends would have been tied up. But overall I would recommend reading it. I finished it in about a week and found myself laughing out loud at many of the situations presented.
Cathy Kutz
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though the start off of this book felt rather slow, it's definitely worth the read! A good look at what happens when you have and/or felt like you've been cheated on by someone and the lengths you would go to discover the truth. It also tells of great friendship and how you can find great friends in the most unlikely of places!!
Dec 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found myself laughing out loud from start to finish. The way the author intertwines the lives of the characters is a little bit like "Crash" on crack. Suffice to say that you won't be disappointed that you picked this book up. Enjoy the trip!
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay, fiction
Starts with a promising humorous setup and continues with many funny lines, but somehow loses its way and meanders into I-just-don't-care-anymore territory which left me skimming the last third of the book just to see how the various plot lines worked out.
Oct 18, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book would make a terrible romantic comedy movie. I'm usually not interested in reading about the dramas of failing relationships (fictitious ones, anyway) but this one had me going. I don't know who I would ever recommend this to, it's kind of like a secret I keep under my pillow.
This is probably a good book and was highly recommended by a friend. I think I just am a bit humor impaired and it didn't do much for me - it's a light read and probably pretty funny if it's your style.
Entertaining enough, decent premise, but not particularly moving ... The two main characters seem interesting and witty, but I didn't feel like I knew a lot about them beyond their own relationship and their relationships with their significant others. I don't know -- maybe I wasn't supposed to.
Feb 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, upper-class, fluff, lgbt
I read this novel during the mist of my finals/graduation haze. It was wonderful fluff to get me across the stage. There are some memorable one-liners, though the characters aren't well developed. A good weekend, snow blizzard, rainy-day book. Enjoy.
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I was born in New Jersey, and am the fourth of six children.

I purposefully went to college, then accidentally went to law school.

I've lived in Paris for the past 14 years, and teach American law part-time at the University of Paris-V.

I like: traveling, languages, writing complaint letters, and TV shows with video clips of people getting hurt.

I hate: potatoes.
More about Paul Schmidtberger...
“And then one student said that happiness is what happens when you go to bed on the hottest night of the summer, a night so hot you can't even wear a tee-shirt and you sleep on top of the sheets instead of under them, although try to sleep is probably more accurate. And then at some point late, late, late at night, say just a bit before dawn, the heat finally breaks and the night turns into cool and when you briefly wake up, you notice that you're almost chilly, and in your groggy, half-consciousness, you reach over and pull the sheet around you and just that flimsy sheet makes it warm enough and you drift back off into a deep sleep. And it's that reaching, that gesture, that reflex we have to pull what's warm - whether it's something or someone - toward us, that feeling we get when we do that, that feeling of being safe in the world and ready for sleep, that's happiness.” 157 likes
“I'm just saying that I don't want to go through any of this anymore. With anyone. I want to buy a cat, or lease one, or do whatever it is that lonely people do these days. Call it quits. And that's what I don't get, because no matter how much I tell myself it's all useless and it's all a waste of time and energy, there just doesn't seem to be a way to stop myself from looking for the right person. You know? From looking at every face on every escalator that's going up while I'm going down and wondering whether the right guy for me just went by... Why isn't there a fuse box somewhere that I can go peer at with a flashlight until I find the fuse with 'Heart' written underneath it and then throw that switch and let the rest of them keep humming merrily along and just, I don't know, opt out of the whole thing?” 47 likes
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