33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lively and Funny...With an Emotional Hook
If you're looking for Philip Roth, you might do better to look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for a funny (often wildly funny) book about relationships, lost dreams, and the concessions of adulthood, this is a good book. Maybe even a great book. Martin Sierra is a 'writer' without a single publishing credit to his name (Martin's hero is Charles Bukowski, poet...
Published on 11 April 2005 by Dante Peroni
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not bad
i usually hate books about relationships but somehow found myself sucked into this one. this book is a little weird in places but i really liked the main character.
my only real problem with the book was that it was too much like a movie at times. there's a lot of dialogue and the scenes turn through words, mostly, not action.
but overall I think the writer did a...
Published on 13 Oct 2005 by loren eiseley
Most Helpful First | Newest First
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lively and Funny...With an Emotional Hook,
This review is from: The Losers Club (Paperback)If you're looking for Philip Roth, you might do better to look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for a funny (often wildly funny) book about relationships, lost dreams, and the concessions of adulthood, this is a good book. Maybe even a great book. Martin Sierra is a 'writer' without a single publishing credit to his name (Martin's hero is Charles Bukowski, poet laureate of skid row and famous drunk), and he's getting on in years, feeling trapped in a dead-end job and languishing in an ambiguous relationship with the woman of his dreams, Nikki. To distract himself from the constant rejections, Martin is drawn into the world of the downtown personals, a kind of limbo place where most gals he meets, artists and Goths, seem as lost as he is. There is humor in the edgy dialogue and the unexpected turns of the protagonist. Also the descriptions. This novel revels in the grittiness of New York City, the bars and clubs, endless crowds of unknowable people. The descriptions of New York's East Village (pre-9/11) have a hallucinatory clarity and at certain points the book becomes a kind of travelogue or semi-journalistic depiction of that era. I got caught up in this novel. The short chapters and simple writing make it quite addicting, and I found myself compelled to read more and more of it. Like a guilty pleasure. Be forewarned: there's quite a bit of profanity and unconventional behavior in this book. Not a novel for conservatives -- but otherwise quite alive and full of spontaneity. Again, not Philip Roth, but I really enjoyed it. If you are a Bukowski fan, you will love this book!
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, Funny and Empathetic,
This review is from: The Losers Club (Paperback)I liked it. The main character was actually likeable for once, not like those creeps in all the trendoid 'violent' fiction that's now considered 'cool.' This book actually was sentimental. But in a good way. It had a pulse. Took real chances on an emotional level.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed But Lively Little Book,
This review is from: The Losers Club (Paperback)Of my recent Amazon purchases -- including A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby and Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs -- this book falls at number two. I enjoyed Running With Scissors only slightly more because of the more polished writing, but I actually liked it better than the latest Nick Hornby Book, which I found lacking. (I'm a big High Fidelity fan, so it pains me to say this.)
The Losers Club is a rough (sometimes roughly written) comic love story of sorts involving Martin Sierra, a Spanish American protagonist whose only goal in life is to be a poet in the vein of Charles Bukowski. But as the novel opens we understand that things aren't exactly working out for Martin.
Stuck at a tedious dead end job (one of the many sacrifices for his "art") he is demoralized and left feeling empty. One of his few pleasures appears to be the East Village, which at the time of the book (pre-9/11) was still a happening place.
In the East Village, Martin bangs around the clubs and bars hoping to find meaning and possibly a romantic connection, when we're introduced to Nikki, who plays a central role in the book.
In many ways The Losers Club embraces, albeit humorously, the cult of failure. That's primarily what this book is about. Martin has feelings for Nikki, who, quite realistically, doesn't know what she wants. This launches Martin back into the world of the Downtown personals, through which Martin relentlessly meets and dates a host of unconventional prospects. If you're at all familiar with the scene, these artsy, experimental, somewhat damaged individuals are drawn with surprising accuracy; and the author has a gift for swift and often funny dialogue.
Decide for yourself, but I found The Losers Club enjoyable, often funny, and easy-to-read. It's not literary in the typical sense, yet there are eloquent passages and moments of true feeling. I was definitely moved on an emotional level at certain parts. You may not enjoy this novel if you typically enjoy high-toned literary bestsellers, like Atonement or anything by John Updike. But if you want a fast, fun, sometimes crude read in the vein of High Fidelity, this book is definitely for you.
42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of the Artist as a Young Loser,
This review is from: The Losers' Club (Paperback)Barcelona is worlds away from New York City. Right? You wouldn't expect someone from Spain to know much about the club scene, drag queens, or frustrated artists of the East Village, would you? When would I have ever found myself a magnet for freaks while the girl I've spent my every aching second pining for only thought of me as 'friendship' material?
Have you wallowed in unrequited love? Have you ever gone to dance clubs? Have you ever squirmed violently in the orgiastic throng of a concert audience, adding your own pressure to the mass at the stage like so many sperm beating against an egg? The pulse throbbing in you still as you left the building, vibrating you like a bell?
Okay, so maybe not all of this is universal. Suffice it to say, Richard Perez's The Loser's Club rang familiar for me. Even though I've never been to the Village (or New York City). Even though that stage of life ended for me by age 22, and Perez's protagonist, Martin Sierra, is in his latter twenties.
Martin is an Export Assistant at Japan World Transport. He hates it, of course, and spends most of his time on the phone or on the photocopier, checking for messages on his personal ad or copying poetry for submission to whichever journal will reject him next. I hope I'm not the only one who's been there-a collection of cold form letters from publishers your only greeting after each day at a meaningless job.
The fascination for the personals keeps Martin going day to day. What better way to people-watch than to actually set up a meeting with the watchee? Martin's obsession certainly has a hollowness to it. But it's more than idle curiosity. Once upon a time he fell in love with someone he met through the personals. Nikki. And now? They're best friends. The word is a curse. Perhaps Martin is continually trying to reenact their first meeting. As if getting it right somehow would break the spell and free him and Nikki to move beyond friendship. As for the idea that Martin is searching for his possibly abusive, definitely mysterious missing mother, I don't buy it. Were that the case he'd never have developed more feeling for Nikki than he does for any of the others.
These others form quite a menagerie. In the novel two figure prominently. Lola is an art student who lives with her mother and paints absurdly violent images. Amaris has a son and believes in vampires. Martin starts seeing both, and things are progressing in each case, through no urgency of his own. But however insignificantly mundane Martin's life may seem, with its pointless daily carousel of work, alcohol, arranged meetings and clubs, it can still come crashing down. When it does, he finds that the only thing left is something he hadn't even started with.
This is actually a formulaic romance. In fact, the climax and resolution are a little too much, the dream triggering them a deus ex machina.
Yet the book surprises with some excellent writing. There's no question Perez can tap into the era he's portraying. And the dialogue is natural, entirely credible. Dance clubs, including mosh pits, are very well described. And moments like Martin's searching for a parking spot, asking women sitting in their cars if they're leaving and invariably being told no, are exquisite.
The frustrated artist aspect of Martin's personality is underdeveloped. When the mountain of rejection letters is introduced, the description is prosaic-a lost opportunity for Kafkaesque indulgence. But I love the discussion of journals requiring SASEs, the humiliation of providing the vehicle for your own rejection. And I suppose this aspect of Martin's character is little more important than his parking woes, or his inability to skip stones on a pond, or the fact that a club lacks his preferred draft. The point of each is to reflect on his love life.
Martin himself is far from the typical romantic lead. He's too much the good-for-nothing-but-the-appreciation-of-irony post-Gen-Xer. I suspect most readers will either find him unendurably dull or succumb to a nostalgic sympathy. But one thing I find remarkable about him is the fact that, like any genuine person, he's not entirely at ease in his context. Perez doesn't portray him as too streetwise, nor too naïve. Instead, Martin has an open mind. He doesn't surprise easily. At the same time, there are drugs he's never heard of, he doesn't know what a 'swatch' is, Amaris's sexual confessions shock him, and despite his sophistication his enjoyment of silly sci-fi movies is not purely ironic. The girls themselves are interesting characters, but hardly dynamic. Lola and Amaris are props, really, and Nikki seldom more real than the Grail. Of course, that's as it should be. That's the point: she isn't tangible. She's a dream. And isn't everyone entitled to have a dream or two when they're young?
What I like most about The Loser's Club is the lack of pretension. To me this novel comes off as entirely unassuming. This isn't an overly fraught narrative like academia would relish. Neither does it strain too hard to excite the interest of mainstream young adults. Its perspective (from Martin) is straightforward. Simple and observant, as a disinterested good-for-nothing-but-unremarkable-introspective-poetry guy should be. I found myself enjoying this story despite its weaknesses. Despite the fact that it's not 'important' and that it recreates an era that isn't yet old enough to be cool again. Why? Because at one point I would have identified closely with Martin (except for the weird mother stuff, thank heavens). If the same might be true for you, I'd recommend the book.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty Romance with Humour,
This review is from: The Losers Club (Paperback)I picked this novel up by chance, and ended up enjoying it very much. It's the story of a misfit, basically, who finds himself in a dead-end job, without a lady. His only companion is Nikki, a downtown girl who takes a protective liking to Martin, the main character. She offers him advice on dating, on love, while he struggles to find meaning in all his recent failure. Martin is a young unpublished author locked into a kind of purgatory of poor luck. This is a hilarious book, easy to read; but what makes it most enjoyable are the characters. I related to the main character, who is one part dreamer, one part romantic fool. An amusing book, highly recommended!
46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why This Uncoventional Novel Has a Cult Following,
This review is from: The Losers' Club (Paperback)'The Losers' Club' is the story of Martin Sierra, an aspiring writer in New York's East Village during the mid 1990s, as he searches for relationships with a future and meaning in life. The reader follows Martin, rejected professionally and personally, as he feeds his body through a dead-end job as a shipping clerk and attempts to feed his soul through appreciation of the East Village Art Life. He searches futilely for a woman who will respect his abilities as a poet, a writer, a lover and a friend. His friendship with Nikki is ongoing when the book begins. Bisexual, Nikki is attainable romantically because of a continuing but ultimately doomed relationship. She spends time with Martin and the two connect physically, however Martin's emotional longing for her seems one-sided. Martin is addicted to the personal ads, although he finds rejection there as well. The damaged women who contact him are a physical manifestation of the commercial publishers who reject his craft - commercial, promiscuous, disloyal, selfish. As he pursues 'The Art Life,' it becomes clear that the associated freaks and weirdos of the East Village clubs represent Martin's own preference for pain over feeling nothing, that and other people's scorn over being perpetually ignored. Martin's need for validation seems to emanate from the fact that his mother ignored him as a child, placing her budding career as a poet over her role as a caregiver. This is not a perfect novel, parts of it are raw a la Bukowski, other parts seem underwritten, and overall the book seems fragmentary, but I must admit that I liked it. Almost more than I wanted to. The imagery is always razor-sharp; it's fast-moving, some of the dialogue really killed me -- hilarious, and it's written with genuine heart.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Romantic Comedy ... with a touch of Bukowski,
This review is from: The Losers Club (Paperback)This is about a down-and-almost-out young writer who can't get published and can't seem to find love. Or has he already found it? He's in love his 'best pal,' a bi girl by the name of Nikki who he met through the downtown personals. When he perceives he's being rejected by her, he plunges agains into that personal ad subculture and into the East Village, with hilarious results. This is a pretty funny book. It's about relationships, about dreams, about failure and trying to live up to expectations in America. It's also in many ways a travelogue of pre-9/11 Downtown Manhattan and a coming-of-age story. I read this book on an airplane trip to Spain and enjoyed the ride.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars East Village "High Fidelity",
This review is from: The Losers Club (Paperback)This is a "guy" relationship book. Martin Sierra, an unpublished poet who idolizes Bukowski, can't catch a break. Nearing the age of 30, he's still desperately clinging to his dream of being a writer, though all he has to show for his efforts, so far, is a mountain of rejection letters. Unlike a Bukowski character, however, Martin is the sensitive, shy type; so along with his lack of literary success, his dead end "non-career," he can't find a date. His best and maybe only friend is a woman who takes on the big sister role, advising him as he tries to negotiate the surreal world of personal ads and the downtown singles scene.
The format reminded me a little of Fante's "Ask The Dust." Short chapters, lively characters, and a willful main character made this an entertaining read. Parts reminded me of "High Fidelity," and "Sex Lies and videotape." I enjoyed this fun book.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Purchase ... Ignore the Haters....,
This review is from: The Losers Club (Paperback)I couldn't stop laughing in reading this novel, which seems to be the book that every wanabee young author wishes he'd written, hence the nonstop jealousy and snarky critisms like "he's not the next C. Bukowski!!!!!" You can always tell how good a book is by how many idiots try to tear it down -- only then do you realize there may be something there.
Read it for yourself and see ... this is a very funny, romantic, mad coming-of-age story, one of the most enjoyable reads I've had in ages. Frankly, Richard Perez reminds me of a young Nick Hornby at his best.
This is the story of a young writer who can't seem to get his life started. It's about relationships, primarily, not Bukowski, who Martin, the character in the book, admires. In the novel, Martin is trapped in a deadend job, an empty life full of rejection and no luck when it comes to women. As he sets out to correct this he finds himself drawn into the East Village/NYC scene, which is vividly rendered in this book. Richard Perez is actually an amazing writer, and his descriptions of downtown New York are startlingly real.
In the end, this is a book worth reading more than once. My copy is dogeared. There are passages that I kept reading, over and over. This is one of those books that makes you love reading and books in general. Ignore the haters, and see for yourself!
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it,
This review is from: The Losers Club (Paperback)This is actually a very entertaining book. It's about an alienated Spanish-American poet and writer who spends his days at a meaningless job and his few hours at night tearing up rejection letters from magazine editors and talking to an image of Charles Bukowski.
To unwind, he heads down to the East Village (the book is set in New York City), where he goes to clubs, solicits advice from his best friend, Nikki, a bi-sexual girl who he sees as "perfect" until eventually finding an outlet for his restlessness and curiousity through the downtown personals.
Martin, the protagonist, has the fatal flaw of most comic heroes in that he is essentially naive and prone to a romantic vision of the world.
The notion of bohemia that Martin has in mind in that of Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. And in fact he sees himself, with Nikki (also a writer) as a kind of expatriot, "only he was living in his own country."
This is an entertaining book, not only because of its depiction of the folly of youth, but it's dead-on portrayal of a time and place: Downtown New York City in the late 90s.
The author plays with narrative, using non-linear techniques of flashbacks and dream sequences and personal letters that culminate in a well told coming-of-age story. Or is it a love story? Whatever. I found it a fast-moving and enjoyable read.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
The Losers Club by Richard Perez (Paperback - 24 Jan 2005)
Not in stock; order now and we'll deliver when available