Writing this review feels a little strange, almost like reviewing the work of a friend, despite the fact that I’ve never even met Paul Carr. Shortly after the turn of the century, his email newsletter, The Friday Thing, became the first I ever parted with cash to receive. The subscription was something like £10/year, and it was well worth it.
I remember when Carr branched out into publishing, and I bought some of their early publications, including the book of paramedic Tom Reynolds’s blog. I bought some of the Amateur Transplants stuff which they published, too. And then I sort of lost track of Paul’s career, until last year, when I discovered NSFWCorp – and promptly subscribed. It’s clear that he has an uncanny ability to make me part with my hard earned cash.
Bringing Nothing to the Party was published back in 2009, but I’ve only just discovered it. It tells the “inside story”, from Paul’s point of view, of The Friday Thing and its successors, as well as the dotcom bubble as a whole. It’s a very personal autobiographical book, also describing his love life in some excruciating detail.
I like Paul, so I’m probably predisposed to liking this book. And, indeed, I did. I think it’s really well written. By his own admission, at this stage in his life Carr was a bit of an unlikeable idiot, and yet he manages to pull of that brilliant trick of using well-judged self-depreciation and humour to make a thoroughly unlikeable character sympathetic. It’s genuinely funny, and made me laugh out loud at points. And it’s also genuinely insightful. It’s fascinating to read the sort of things that were going on in the tech startup community during these heady days.
This clearly isn’t a heavy-weight, profound, life-changing book, but it has no pretentions in that direction. It’s a short, fun and funny autobiographical tale, which I thoroughly enjoyed.