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Apathy and Other Small Victories

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  9,641 ratings  ·  767 reviews
The only thing Shane cares about is leaving. Usually on a Greyhound bus, right before his life falls apart again. Just like he planned. But this time it's complicated: there's a sadistic corporate climber who thinks she's his girlfriend, a rent-subsidized affair with his landlord's wife, and the bizarrely appealing deaf assistant to Shane's cosmically unstable dentist.

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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 2nd 2006 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,641 ratings  ·  767 reviews


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Susan
Dec 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Michael
Shelves: fiction-adult
This is the kind of book for people who like their humor like they like their coffee: black with just a twinge of a bitter aftertaste. In fact, the story that's being told here has a lot in common with caffeine: you suspect that it's not really good for you, but it provides you with a satisfying fix. In this case, the "fix" is a good dose of schadenfreude, or maybe just the vicarious satisfaction of observing other people behaving badly. Basically Apathy is a jaunt through total nihilism. The ...more
Kristen
Jul 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008, fiction-general
This book, so far, is so damn funny I was actually roaring with laughter. To be sure, it's not the most politically correct humor, but it really is terribly funny. I'm not even sure I'm through the first chapter and I kept having to put the book down and laugh and wipe my eyes. It's the kind of read that you wish someone was there with you so you could read it out loud to them and make them laugh, too. It's the kind of funny that when you're TRYING to read it out loud you almost can't, because ...more
David Katzman
Sep 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Office Space, Clerks, and ironic humor
Well. I must admit … I have felt rather apathetic about writing this review. I know, I know, obvious joke. But the odd thing is, it’s true. And it’s not that I didn’t enjoy Apathy. I certainly did. Despite the fact that it’s one of the worst book titles I’ve ever read. Is the sequel going to be called Meh? Followed up by Not So Much and Whatevs?

The story itself is a twisted version of Office Space. The main character, Shane, is a slacker who lands a temp job he doesn’t want at the insurance
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Mona
Oct 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Someone left this book on the plane and I thought it was going to be sociological study. So glad I was wrong. Funny as hell and oh so politically incorrect. I had tears in my eyes from cracking up so hard. I made my dad read it and he thinks I'm weird now but liked it too.
Charles
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: me
I started reading this book when a 16 year-old student gave it to me. I didn’t get past page 2 until summer, though I liked it a lot. Once summer hit, I read 50 pages in one sitting and laughed convulsively the whole way through. After another 50, I decided to set it aside for my trip to the beach next week because I wanted something really good to read. It’s the hysterical 1st person narrative of a really messed up apathetic twenty something whose bizarre sense of humor and way of looking at ...more
Livius Nedin
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another reread here. Apathy is quite possibly the funniest book I've ever read. I highly recommend it to anyone with a sense of humor. The unlikely hero of the novel becomes unwittingly involved in a murder investigation as it's prime suspect.

Stolen salt shakers, deaf folk karaoke and hours in a bathroom stall...if only life were this much fun.

WARNING: People do tend to look at you funny when you bust out laughing reading this book.
Brandon
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2008, re-read, 2019
Apathy and Other Small Victories follows Shane, an aimless twenty eight year old wanderer. When he’s not in bed with his landlord’s wife, he spends his time sleeping in the handicap stall of the insurance company he’s temping for. Well, that and stealing salt shakers from diners.

Shane gets caught up in a murder investigation following the death of a friend - a deaf dental assistant named Marlene. Shane seems to know more than he’s letting on to the police, can he escape arrest or does he even
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Wendle
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wendle by: Daniel
This book in one word? Hilarious. I was hooked from the first paragraph when Shane, the first person narrator, talks about stealing salt shakers and waking up in bed covered in salt. Every page made me smile, snort, chortle, giggle, cackle and, on more than a few occasions, lose control of my breathing.

For someone so indifferent, Shane paints a vivid and all too accurate picture of the world and people around him. He doesn’t judge positively or negatively (much), he simply observes.

I genuinely
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Chloe Williams
Sep 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
When I first saw Apathy and Other Small Victories I was drawn in by the cover, sparked by further interest I decided to go ahead and read the first couple of pages. Immediately, I was confused. The book starts off rather abruptly and most of the book continues along the same path. Which would usually make me set the book back down and carry on with my life, but I couldn't help but wonder what it was the author was trying to tell me. What was going on? Why was some man, Shane, being awoken to ...more
TJ Mayes
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm finding it increasingly difficult to find novels targeted at cynical twentysomething males, so I had high hopes for Neilan's first book. The plot is difficult to explain, but Neilan's site sums it up better than I could:

"It's about one man's desperate fight to assign absolutely no meaning to modern life. It's also about sleeping in the bathroom at work, getting framed for a deaf lady's murder, and how it feels to get beat up by a girl."

The narrative was a little forced, but there were four
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Emily
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book seals the deal - I'm officially a sucker for a nihilistic, possibly sociopathic, gross, unlikable anti-heroes. Like other reviews say, this book is funny. But it's more than that; it's funny in a satirical, observant, fatalistic, life-is-shit sort of way. If you like this kind of funny this book will be shelved right in the center of your wheelhouse. I'm now joining the many calling for the re-appearance of Paul Neilan. Come back to us! The world needs you.
Meg
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Laughed 'til I stopped.
Very entertaining read.
Howl
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
I saw this one on the shelf at a place I was staying for a week, and decided to give it a try. It was time that would probably have been better spent reading The Gun Seller, or Flashman, or any of the other books I'd brought with me.

I wasn't really expecting anything (I really mean that; I wasn't expecting it to be good or bad. I was devoid of expectations). It started off okay, with the 'protagonist' Shane lying in bed with a bunch of salt shakers (Shane's habit of stealing salt shakers, which
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Kristen
May 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Easily the funniest book I have ever read in my life. It is my mission in life to make everyone read this book. For the love of God, do yourself a favor and pick this book up.
Laurie
Jan 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
I will be upfront: I hated this book like I haven't hated a book in a really long time. Do not read the rest of this unless you feel like reading a lot of complaining.

This is the story of Shane. He goes to the dentist a lot. He hates his corporate job. He drinks and steals salt shakers. He is accused of a murder. The end.

How did the preceding really pass for a plot when the publisher read this book? Honestly, NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS. The most interesting element of this novel was the murder
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Tim
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly funny, there were times that my wife would stop and roll her eyes at my laughing at this stupid book. I think I should probably add that I have had a few too many beers while writing this review, so I might make it sound like it's the the best novel I have ever read.
The main character, Shane, is very likable, the interaction with him, and every character seem so real, and natural. True dialogue, and thought behind the dialogue.
If you're a visual reader like myself, expect about 5
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Brian
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Like the literary equivalent of a Reddit comment thread: occasionally clever, periodically amusing, but mostly just awful and terrible and offensive (and not even cleverly offensive).

Literary characters don't have to be likeable or noble to be effective, but the sense here throughout is of an author not-so-slyly, winkingly condoning (even endorsing) the shittiness of his protagonist, all with a smirk and a "well, aren't I just a lil' stinker" sort of turn to his face.
Hollyjo11883
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Hollyjo11883 by: Heather and Mommy
Shelves: read-in-2007
This book was hilarious but I think that since my mom and sister both told me some of the funniest parts before I even read it, it kind of ruined it. So thanks guys :) I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has a sense of humor because if you didn't have one, you might think it was kind of weird.
Trav Rockwell
Nov 05, 2015 rated it liked it
This is for those with a crude sense of humour, and politicly incorrect.
I found myself laughing out loud from start to finish. Shane, a 28 year old oddball cares for nothing and no one! For a man self proclaiming Apathy he sure does tend to overthink every little thing that happens to him. He is arrogant toward everyone and everything around him, he just wants to get by unnoticed and do as little as possible in everyday life. Shane finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation, in which
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Tom Quinn
Dec 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This was one of the first books Goodreads ever recommended to me, using whatever algorithm exists to pair your past rankings with future titles, which made it that much more disappointing to find I didn't really like it. Didn't dislike it either. Just didn't think it was anything particularly novel or captivating. Our narrator tells us, "I have always been vaguely and uselessly talented." The same could be said of this endeavor: it's vaguely OK, technically proficient and certainly not without ...more
Franco  Santos
I was stealing salt shakers again. Ten, sometimes twelve a night, shoving them up my sleeves, smuggling them out of bars and diners and anywhere else I could find them. In the morning, wherever I woke up, I was always covered in salt. I was cured meat. I had become beef jerky. Even as a small child, I knew it would one day come to this.

Oficialmente no estoy teniendo una buena racha...
Rachel
Mar 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011
This was one of the worst books I have ever read in my life. I'd rather read all the Twilight books twice AND see all the movies before ever reading this again one time. The figure on the cover holding a gun to his head? That's how I felt the whole time I was reading this book full of rhino diarrhea.
Dean
Jun 22, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm just not sure...and neither is the author.
Look, this book has some funny moments even some laugh out loud moments, but it does not go anywhere near that which it is trying to reach.
Looking past apathy and teetering on nihilism and then contradicting itself by showing the "protagonist" actually caring...it is muddy and lacks substance. It seemed like the author was simply trying to create a compendium of memorable lines without anything to really tie them together so he wrote a "story" and
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Luis
Jul 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
“Nobody knows how to just shut the fuck up and look out the window anymore.”

If a person is talking about his happiness and trying to impose it on you, and if you find yourself sharing the same fleeting feeling, then you know he's good at what he's doing.

Shane's apathy is contagious. I was apathetic about the whole damned story the whole time myself. That's how I know Apathy succeeds at what it's trying to do and tell.

Basically, it's about an apathetic person trying to do senseless things for a
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Amy
Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
Hmm. I hope this author doesn't continue this theme and write a book called Boredom... The guy working the Phoenix airport Borders was pretty convinced that this book was Pure Genius and that I would love it. How Wrong He Was.

I kept hoping the main character would get hit by a truck or something. That wouldn't be "apathy" though would it? The sign language bit was a nice touch but not quite enough to jolt me into enjoying this.
Jeff
Mar 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
A book like this rises or falls on how well its humor meshes with the sensibilities of its reader.

For me, the mesh was imperfect.

Take this early example:

"Hi, I'm Gwendolyn." ...
"Hello, Gwendolyn." ...
"Please, call me Gwen. Only my grandmother calls me Gwendolyn."
Then why the f-ck did you introduce yourself as Gwendolyn, I wanted to ask, but that was way too many words in a row.
"Yeah," I said instead.

If you thought the funniest part of this exchange was "Please, call me Gwen. Only my grandmother
...more
Eric Susak
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Apathy and Other Small Victories is a story about a hopelessly apathetic, salt-stealing man caught up in a murder investigation of a deaf friend. His disposition often threatens his existence, yet it takes more than the loss of a job and two accusing detectives to concern Shane. The premise, to me, seemed interesting enough for a quick read, but the book itself only managed to achieve some small victories with my interest.

There are some funny moments, moments of absurdity and darkness that will
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Mick
May 26, 2009 rated it liked it
Memo to Paul:

When writing a book, it is fundamentally essential for the author to make his/her protagonist at least superficially likeable--or interesting. No need to thank me.

Reading APATHY AND OTHER SMALL VICTORIES is akin to swallowing air. Nada. Granted, Neilan's bizarre musings make for some eyebrow-raising passages, and much of the story is funny, but at the end of the day I walked away from this book feeling completely underwhelmed. A story about a chronic underachiever who cares about
...more
Will
Jun 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
This was sitting around, so gave it a read.

I'm sure the author would like to think I don't appreciate his dark wit, but really, it's just not very funny.

I would forgive the offensiveness (or even enjoy it) if the book were entertaining or well written, but it's not.
MundiNova
Feb 24, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
But .... why?

There's so much wrong with this book:
1) Shane, a sociopathic protagonist who isn't very interesting (which is REALLY hard to do)
2) Female characters fall into one of two categories: Madonna or Whore.
3) There's no story

I'm not sure what Neilan was trying to accomplish with this book. Was his goal to write such a despicable and villainous main character, throw him into "funny" situations that could only appeal to angry privileged white men who expect the world to cater to them,
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*SPOILERS* Help Understanding the end! 4 19 Jul 25, 2015 02:05PM  
apathy 9 112 Aug 29, 2013 02:59PM  

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153 followers
Paul Neilan is an American novelist, writer of Apathy and Other Small Victories.
“The world is your oyster...
...too bad you're allergic to shellfish.”
67 likes
“It was nice of her to want to believe the best about me. People tend to do that with the strangers they're fucking. If she wanted to think that apathy and independence were the same thing, good for her. Maybe she was right.” 61 likes
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