PAUL NEILAN recently left his mind-numbing job at an insurance company in Portland, Oregon, where he spent most of his time hiding in the bathroom and weeping. Born of this and many, many other humiliations, Apathy and Other Small Victories is his first novel.
Like many a hip young literary antihero these days, the protagonist of this hilarious if aimless debut is sunk in slacker anomie. Shane has a monotonous temp job at an insurance agency, where he is supposed to alphabetize paperwork but instead spends his time sleeping on the toilet. After work, he is besieged by a gallery of grotesques: a vapid girlfriend who sexually brutalizes him; an absurdly macho neighbor with a leather-clad guinea pig for a sex slave; and his dentist's deaf assistant, who sings atonal karaoke, teaches him to sign obscenities and furnishes a wispy narrative thread by getting murdered. In a world both banal and assaultive, Shane can only drink, steal salt shakers and cultivate his sense of irony; "[t]here's only so much you can do," he shrugs, "and even that's not worth the trouble." Shane's malaise doesn't feel earned; job aside, there are just too many gonzo goings-on-the landlord, for instance, is paying him to have sex with his wife-for him to feel so listless. There's not much to Shane besides a defiant dejectedness, but from that Neilan spins many sparkling comic riffs on the tawdriness and sterility of American life. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"Comprising 50% sheer brilliance, 50% distilled cynicism, and 50% coronary-inducing humor, Apathy and Other Small Victories has more life, laughs, and story on every page than should be possible. A heartbreakingly funny paean to supercharged nihilism, it's the best book you'll read in years, and the funniest novel ever. If you don't love it, there's something wrong with you, and if you do, there is also something wrong with you--but you won't care." --Max Barry, author of Company "Neilan's wit is a razor that cuts and slashes mercilessly on every single page, in every single paragraph, so that your fingers will bleed even as the tears of laughter soak your face. So basically, you'll be reduced to a bloody, weeping mess, madly reading whole pages aloud as friends and family shake their heads and slowly back away." --Jonathan Tropper, author of Everything Changes "Neilan spins sparkling comic riffs on the tawdriness and sterility of American life." --Publishers Weekly "The malaise of cubicle culture may be well-trodden comedic territory by now, but Neilan's debut skewers office life with a flourish for the grotesque." --The Village Voice