How to Be Inappropriate
Dry, offbeat, and mostly profane, this debut collection of humorous nonfiction glorifies all things inappropriate and TMI.
Arguments, lists, barstool rants, queries, pedantic footnotes, play scripts, commonplace miscellany, profiles, and overly revealing memoirettes, How to Be Inappropriate adds up to the portrait of a twenty-something-become-thirty-something, bachelor-become husband, boy-man-about-town who bumbles through life obsessed with one thing: extreme impropriety.
In How to Be Inappropriate, Daniel Nester determines the boundary of acceptable behavior—mostly by disregarding it. As a here-to-cut-a-hipster-swathe-through-the-city man, he looks for love with a Williamsburg abstract painter who has had her feet licked for money. As a teacher, he tries out curse words with Chinese students in ESL classes. Along the way, Nester provides a short cultural history of mooning and attempts to cast a spell on a neighbor who fails to curb his dog. He befriends exiled video-game king Todd Rogers, and reimagines Terry Gross’s Fresh Air conversation with—and invents a robot version of—Kiss bassist Gene Simmons.
No matter which misadventure catches your eye, How to Be Inappropriate will make you appreciate that someone else has experienced these embarrassing sides of life so that you won’t have to.
Press and Praise
Throughout the book, Nester has a self-deprecating charm that makes his writing seem like he’s just hanging out with you, telling you a good story. Whether it’s recounting the time he moved in next door to an ex-girlfriend while living in New York (“The Puerto Rican Lockhorns Reunion”) or detailing his adventures in self-tanning (“Yes I Tan”) Nester is funny, but never mean. Indeed, even when he could go for the jugular in two of the finest pieces in the book, he instead remains an observer, allowing the laughs to emerge from his subject’s behavior rather than any snarky remark he could have come up with.—Scott Malchus, Popdose
A “deeply funny new collection of booger-flecked nonfiction…While all of these lowbrow reflections are amusing, it’s when Nester is semiserious that he’s at his best….As a whole, How to Be Inappropriate reads like a coming-of-age tale in which adulthood arrives with a refreshingly juvenile mind-set.”—Time Out New York
“Daniel Nester is a stone-cold genius.Clever, lyrical, inappropriate in all the right ways—I’d rather read him than just about anyone right now.”—Darin Strauss, author of More Than It Hurts You and Half a Life
“If there was Nobel Prize for Achievement in Inappropriateness, Daniel Nester would be Laureate of the Universe. Until then, he’ll have settle for having written this shockingly innovative stunner of a book. Nester brings his irreverent, elegiac sensibility to subjects ranging from the essence of literary truth to the enduring mystery of flatulence, managing in the bargain to highlight the bleak hilarity of human existence—which, when you think about it, is the most inappropriate thing of all.”—Rachel Shukert, author of Have You No Shame?
“Daniel Nester’s essays are haunted by a Victorian perversity. His writing exhibits a kind of Tourette syndrome in which the author continuously abases himself and revels in his own shortcomings. It’s a painful kind of comedy leavened by gentle good humor and wonder.”—Thomas Beller, author of The Sleep-Over Artist and How To Be a Man
In the relatively new literary subgenre called “creative nonfiction” (like “flash fiction,” an invention of the college-based creative writing industry in the same way that “Sweetest Day” is an invention of the confectioner’s industry), Nester is the reigning court jester. His “essays” combine James Thurber’s mild-mannered escapist fantasies with Hunter S. Thompson’s closely observed grotesquery and pharmaceutically-assisted abandon. He’s got a Norman Mailer-sized id without the baggage of Mailer’s self-aggrandizing belligerence. But, in truth, his lineage can be traced back much further. Reading through the elaborate prologues to each of the pieces in How to be Inappropriate, one hears distant echoes of the great narrative embellishers of ages past: François Rabelais in Gargantua and Pantagruel, Laurence Sterne in Tristram Shandy, even the great Miguel de Cervantes in Don Quixote itself.—R.D. Pohl’s Buffalo News ArtsBeat
Virginia Konchan’s review in Rain Taxi.
“Dryly hilarious” says The Chronogram.
“[M]y choice for humorous essay collection of the year, starring a writer unafraid to put himself in tawdry, humiliating positions to be able to personally describe them and the feelings created by them.”—Chris Estey, Three Imaginary Girls, “Great Reads of 2009”
“Daniel Nester is the rarest of humorous essayists: he’s actually funny. He also happens to be a fine poet, and a keen authority on popular music, and his writing in How to Be Inappropriate radiates the kind of intelligence and insight that inspires a reader to conduct his own self-examination vis-a-vis inappropriateness.”—Steve Caratzas, NewPages
“Daniel Nester is the kind of writer who looks at his book as an opportunity to be honest with you, and hopefully make you laugh. Which I did.”—Emily Nonko, from her interview on Bomb magazine’s website
“In How to Be Inappropriate, Daniel Nester collects many of his clever essays in one of the year’s funniest books. If you have been reading Nester’s pieces at The Daily Beast, you know how funny he can be, especially when casting his discerning eye towards pop culture.”—Largehearted Boy
Interview with Rigoberto Gonzalez at Critical Mass, the National Book Critics Circle blog
Interview with Kathy Ritchie in Smith Magazine‘s Memoirville books blog
“Laugh-out-loud…reminds the reader of a gritty, funnier version of Jerry Seinfeld, or perhaps Curb Your Enthusiasm.”—Bookishworm
“Whoopee! Author Daniel Nester is most inappropriate”—Jeff Baker in The Oregonian
“Nester’s essays are hilarious in their approach to as specific a theme as inappropriateness, and they come highly recommended.”—Bookslut’s John Zuarino’s intro to Indie Heartthrob interview
“‘Too much information’ should be the tagline for this debut collection of humorous nonfiction pieces from Daniel Nester…Told through a series of essays, lists, rants, play scripts, and profiles, this part-memoir, part-random collection of nonsense is an entertaining look at defying the conventions of appropriate behavior.”—The Daily Beast, Hot Reads listing
The AV Club mentions the How to Be Inappropriate whoopee cushion, mentioned in “The year in swag: 27 ridiculous promotional items we received in 2009.”
Former McSweeney’s editor Nester (English, Coll. of Saint Rose), whose writing has appeared in The Best Creative Nonfiction,The Best American Poetry, and Poets & Writers, presents his debut collection of humorous nonfiction, amassing 41 years’ worth of experience in nonconformity. His stories are, as the title suggests, inappropriate, and they often engender squeamishness, discomfort, and laughter. But they are fresh and, at times, touching, qualities that make this an enjoyable read. Subjects include teaching curse words to Chinese ESL students, reimagining a Terry Gross NPR interview of Gene Simmons by substituting Gene Simmons with an AI computer, a collection of references to flatulence in English poesy, the history of mooning, and out-of-context comments he made as a college professor in order to clarify and expand upon his students’ writing. Nester includes photographs, illustrations, and a time line of his inappropriate acts from birth to the present. VERDICT Recommended for readers who enjoy memoirs and essays.”—Library Journal
“[A] deeply funny new collection of booger-flecked nonfiction”—Drew Toal’s four-star review of How to Be Inappropriate from Time Out New York.
“This guy is intelligent and funny, and so is his book.”—Rod Lott, Bookgasm.
Interview with Sage Cohen at Writing the Life Poetic Zine.