Amsden, David 1980-
AMSDEN, David 1980-
Agent—c/o Author Mail, William Morrow/HarperCollins, 10 E. 53rd Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10022.
Important Things That Don't Matter, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to New York magazine.
A magazine contributor by the age of nineteen, David Amsden became a published novelist at age twenty-three with Important Things That Don't Matter. A former intern at the New Yorker and a regular contributor to New York magazine, Amsden fits easily into the city's hipster literary scene, but he felt a certain dissatisfaction with its literature. "Enough with this uber-neurotic fiction where nothing really happens! I can't relate to any of the stuff! I just wanted something that felt really raw and honest," he told Gawker.com editor Elizabeth Spiers in an interview for Salon.com. At the same time, Amsden wanted to correct another flaw he saw in a number of stories he came across. As he told Spiers, "'I was reading stories from the '70s and '80s about couples [that are having problems]'.… Important Things That Don't Matter, he explains, reverses the traditional model and tells the story from the child's point of view."
In the book, the unnamed boy-narrator tells of his parents' divorce and his subsequent relationship with his cocaine-addicted father, who goes through an assortment of dead-end jobs and relationships, while treating his young son to trips to the local pub. "The narrator's voice is a likable mixture of bewilderment and tentative black humor, and some of the scenes … are well cast and darkly ironic, but the book as a whole doesn't gather much momentum," concluded a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Onion A.V. Club reviewer Tasha Robinson found that "These may be the most important things that ever happened to the narrator, but he doesn't know why or how they shaped him. Because he never leaves his own well-insulated head, they don't particularly matter to anyone else." For a Kirkus Reviews contributor, "The problem about Amsden's gum-chewing, childishly sarcastic vernacular is that it works only while the narrator's quirky, self-deprecating personality keeps the reader's interest.…The 'Me and Dad' anecdotes are good for a few laughs before we yearn for more substantial fare."
Other reviewers were more impressed with the story, and with the young narrator telling it. "The narrator's resentment only comes out in spurts … but when his anger appears, it is powerful and heartbreaking," wrote Booklist reviewer Kristine Huntley. "The kid in Amsden's book tells us an honest, open story. Make no mistake, he's talking directly to you. You suffer and laugh with him, and believe me, you'll be embarrassed as you recognize yourself," noted PopMatters contributor Valerie MacEwan. She concluded, "As a reviewer, I'll tell you—Get this book. Enjoy it. It's fun. It's quick. But be warned. There's a larger story here than appears on the surface. I suspect David Amsden has a lot more in store for us and I can't wait."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2003, Kristine Huntley, review of Important Things That Don't Matter, p. 1145.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2003, review of Important Things That Don't Matter, p. 101.
Publishers Weekly, December 29, 2002, review of Important Things That Don't Matter, p. 58.
Onion A.V. Club,http://www.theonionavclub.com/ (January 29, 2003), Tasha Robinson, review of Important Things That Don't Matter.
PopMatters,http://www.popmatters.com/ (April 2, 2003), Valerie MacEwan, review of Important Things That Don't Matter.