LOSER GOES FIRST: My Thirty-Something Years of Dumb Luck and Minor Humiliation

Dan Kennedy, Author . Crown $23 (226p) ISBN 978-0-609-61036-7

McSweeney's contributor Kennedy claims to have managed to miss just about every zeitgeist of his life so far: leaving Seattle for Austin to make music just as grunge was taking off and failing to make millions in the dot-com excesses at the opposite end of the same decade, to name two. Part mock Chicken Soup for the Slacker ("Maybe the only reason we don't do half of the things we try to do in life is because we just never get around to doing them") and part Sedaris-style essay collection, this episodic book presents Kennedy from his normal-but-awkward childhood to his normal-but-still-awkward adulthood. Early flights of Walter Mitty fantasy segue later in the book to a hard-won semi-maturity after he ends up broke in Manhattan after a failed grab at MTV VJ fame. His 30 years, though at a glance misspent, have taught him a lot—and won him a lot of friends. One of the book's main attractions for certain readers will be its shortcoming for others: Kennedy's spot-on generational references might seem alien to someone who didn't spend tthe '80s wearing Ocean Pacific shorts and listening to the Plimsouls and Oingo Boingo. Yet the main achievement here is that each potential success remains just that close in the mind of this book's protagonist; while Kennedy-the-character was constructed by and resembles Kennedy-the-author, the latter maintains a particular warmly bemused (or faux naïve) distance from him, the signature move of the McSweeney's generation. 4-city author tour.(Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/30/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-4000-5374-2
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 124 pages - 978-1-4000-8292-6
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