In a very near futureoh, lets say next Tuesdaya functionally illiterate America is about to collapse. But dont that tell that to poor Lenny Abramov, the thirty-nine-year-old son of an angry Russian immigrant janitor, proud author of what may well be the worlds last diary, and less-proud owner of a bald spot shaped like the great state of Ohio. Despite his job at an outfit called Post-Human Services, which attempts to provide immortality for its super-rich clientele, death is clearly stalking this cholesterol-rich morsel of a man. And why shouldnt it? Lennys from a different centuryhe totally loves books (or printed, bound media artifacts, as theyre now known), even though most of his peers find them smelly and annoying. But even more than books, Lenny loves Eunice Park, an impossibly cute and impossibly cruel twenty-four-year-old Korean American woman who just graduated from Elderbird College with a major in Images and a minor in Assertiveness.
After meeting Lenny on an extended Roman holiday, blistering Eunice puts that Assertiveness minor to work, teaching our ancient dork effective new ways to brush his teeth and making him buy a cottony nonflammable wardrobe. But America proves less flame-resistant than Lennys new threads. The country is crushed by a credit crisis, riots break out in New Yorks Central Park, the citys streets are lined with National Guard tanks on every corner, the dollar is so over, and our patient Chinese creditors may just be ready to foreclose on the whole mess. Undeterred, Lenny vows to love both Eunice and his homeland. Hes going to convince his fickle new love that in a time without standards or stability, in a world where single people can determine a dating prospects hotness and sustainability with the click of a button, in a society where the privileged may live forever but the unfortunate will die all too soon, there is still value in being a real human being.
Wildly funny, rich, and humane, Super Sad True Love Story is a knockout novel by a young master, a book in which falling in love just may redeem a planet falling apart.
DO NOT GO GENTLE
FROM THE DIARIES OF LENNY ABRAMOV
Today Ive made a major decision: I am never going to die. Others will die around me. They will be nullified. Nothing of their personality will remain. The light switch will be turned off. Their lives, their entirety, will be marked by glossy marble headstones bearing false summations (her star shone brightly, never to be forgotten, he liked jazz), and then these too will be lost in a coastal flood or get hacked to pieces by some genetically modified future- turkey.
Dont let them tell you lifes a journey. A journey is when you end up somewhere. When I take the number 6 train to see my social worker, thats a journey. When I beg the pilot of this rickety United- ContinentalDeltamerican plane currently trembling its way across the Atlantic to turn around and head ...
Forget suspense thrillers and horror novels. Forget zombies and vampires and things that go bump in the night. If you are passionate about books and reading, if you value real work, if you love America, Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story just might be the scariest book you read this year. What's most frightening - and, yes, saddest - about Shteyngart's satirical third novel is just how plausible the whole thing is... [I]n the end, Shteyngart's novel is about love - of places, for words, for parents and children and lovers and friends. Such love might not stop the seemingly relentless rush toward destruction or at least absurdity, but it might slow it down just long enough for us to find someone's hand to hold as we sweep, together, into an uncertain future.
(Reviewed by Norah Piehl).
Full Review (879 words).
It's perhaps not surprising that with his third novel, Gary Shteyngart should shift his focus from Russia (the setting of his first two novels) to the United States. The novelist was born in Leningrad in 1972 and immigrated to the United States as a young boy. He attended Oberlin College in Ohio, where he received a degree in politics, and Hunter College in New York City, where he received his MFA in creative writing.
Shteyngart's Russian Jewish roots and his American upbringing both inform his fiction, providing him with both an insider's knowingness and an outsider's perspective. In his debut novel The Russian Debutante's Handbook, a failed immigrant returns to his native country, designing financial scams to prey on clueless Americans ...
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