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Art imitates life (almost) in David Shapiro's new novel

David Shapiro talks about his book, "You're Not Much Use To Anyone."

David Shapiro's book "You're Not Much Use To Anyone" came out July 22. Credit: Rostam Batmanglij David Shaprio's book "You're Not Much Use To Anyone" came out July 22.
Credit: Rostam Batmanglij

Freaking out about the success you don't yet have, asking yourself if you should go to law school and determining your self-worth by the number of page views your blog gets are a big part of the 20s for many. David Shapiro has been there, done that and wrote the semi-autographical book on it.

"In terms of how true the book is, it's a really blown-up, exaggerated version of myself," Shapiro tells us. In the book, the narrator — David S. — is an insecure post-grad who becomes Internet-famous by starting a Tumblr reviewing the reviews of an indie music website. In real life, the same thing happened to Shapiro when he started his Tumblr, Pitchfork Reviews Reviews. "I wish I didn’t see the world like the narrator does, but I know that way of seeing the world will always be apart of time," he tries to explain, adding that the fiction parts of the book are more in the friends and timeline.

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Talking with Shapiro, he does seem a lot like David S. He hasn't figured out how to stop caring about his online presence ("It feels like a rat race in a way. ... I would like to get out of it.") and he's not exactly exuberatingconfidence ("My publicist told me I had to be more confident about this book and my work because I'm trying to sell it. But I told her if I was more confident, I couldn't have written this book.").

As if the title didn't give it away enough — the book shares the name with a Belle and Sebastian song — music is a huge part of the book, Belle and Sebastian in particular. Shapiro says he listened to Belle and Sebastian exclusively while writing the book and still listens to them every day on the subway. "Listening to Belle and Sebastian is like returning to the womb," he says. "There's a deep theme of feeling sorry for yourself and feeling inadequate. ... The [narrator] in the book is terrified of having to grow up and I think Belle and Sebastian is a great salve on that emotional wound. ... It's like a security blanket. You know what I mean?"

Now 25, Shapiro is no longer the lost post-grad he was in this semi-autobiographical novel. After doing what many confused graduates do (law school) he seems to have figured everything out. "Incidentally I love law school more than anything I have ever done," he says. "I feel like, wow, I'm in the right place. I found what I'm supposed to do."

He'll be celebrating the release of his book with a big bash at Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn. Jesse Cohen, one half of the band Tanlines, will be interviewing him, and Tao Lin, Jon Carmonica and Heems from Das Racist will also play part in the event. "I bought a bag of Native American cigarettes for $14 from a strip mall of cigarette stores in the Hamptons and also bought 100 lighters for $17 on Amazon so no one will have to bum a cigarette at the reading," he says. "It should be pretty sweet."

If you go:
July 31, 7 - 9 p.m.
Powerhouse Arena
37 Main Street, Brooklyn
718-666-3049
powerhousearena.com

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence

 
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