Book review: Loser Lit

By , January 19, 2011

I first heard about the concept of loser lit in a piece by Kate Christensen at  She subtitled her article: “In praise of the cranky, misanthropic, uncompromising nobodies of literature—may they screw up forever” and then proceeded to list a lot of my favorite books.  They’re all about people (usually men) who sabotage themselves repeatedly and unrepentantly, resulting in a downward spiral that is sometimes hilarious but always disastrously entertaining.  Here are a few of the best of the genre:

Wake Up, Sir!
Jonathan Ames



Work Shirts for Madmen
George Singleton



A Fan’s Notes
Frederick Exley



David Gates



Lucky Jim
Kingsley Amis
(a British classic of the genre)


Dear American Airlines
Jonathan Miles



A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living
Michael Dahlie
(for which the author recently won a $50,000 Whiting Award)


Bridget Jones’s Diary
Helen Fielding
(with one of the few female loser lit protagonists)



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