Book Review: You’re Not Much Use to Anyone by David Shapiro

You're Not Use to Anyone by David Shapiro

 

Title: You’re Not Much Use to Anyone
Author: David Shapiro
Genre: Fiction
Copyright: 2014
Publisher: New Harvest
Pages: 224
ISBN-13: 978-0544262300

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.

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