Apathy and Other Small Victories

apathy-and-other-small-victoriesTitle: Apathy and Other Small Victories.

Author: Paul Neilan.

Summary: The only thing Shane cares about is leaving. 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, a dentist who won’t stop crying and a deaf woman who winds up dead. When Shane becomes a suspect he’ll have to clear the good name he never had and doesn’t particularly want: his own.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: 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.

“I was cured meat. I had become beef jerky. Even as a small, small child, I knew it would one day come to this.”

If i’m not careful, this whole review could simple become quotes from the book. Every page made me smile, snort, chortle, giggle, cackle and, on more than a few occasions, lose control of my breathing.

Told predominately through flashbacks, as Shane tries to figure out what happened to now-dead deaf Marlene, where he was on the night of her murder and who could have killed her (because he’s fairly confident it wasn’t him).

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. He observes people who work at the insurance company he temps at; he observes them fooling themselves into thinking their jobs, their cubicles and their colleagues are of vital importance in their lives. He observes his neighbours; an animal fetishist who sells fireworks and a bowling landlord who pays his tenants to sleep with his wife. He observes his severely and continually traumatised dentist and his stoic deadly force advocate local bartender.

The two main people he engages with are his sexually abusive ‘girlfriend’ and his dentist’s deaf serial adulterer assistant. The former he ends up with due to a night of hiccups rendering him monosyllabic, while his passivity leaves him unable to get rid of her. The latter he forms what resembles the closest he comes to a friendship—at least for him.

I genuinely loved every character. Or at least i loved them through Shane’s detached point of view. I particularly liked his relationship (or lack thereof) with Bryce’s wife, whose name we never learn, because Shane really doesn’t care (he does love her, though—because she doesn’t care).

This book is set in America, but every time something American was mentioned (ass, jaywalking, too many Z’s), it shocked me to remember that the book was American. The humour is distinctly reminiscent of typical surreal and wry British humour that i’m used to.

The people and the situations are 100% ridiculous, but the thought processes and delivery from Shane are perfection. If i ever need a quick gigglesnort in the future, this will be the book to pick up and randomly read a few paragraphs of.

Okay, one more:

“That’s when I realised I was naked, and that I had salt in my hair. Saturday mornings are always strange for me.”

What can i say? Salt plays a vital role in Shane’s world.

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About Wendleberry
I'm odd.

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