The Gentleman Recommends: Gary Shteyngart – Daniel Boone Regional Library

The Gentleman Recommends: Gary Shteyngart

Book cover for Super Sad True Love StoryGreat satirists thrive when stuff in the world is goofy or evil. So, given the idyllic nature of the world these days, it’s hard to imagine that there’s much good satire out there or that satirists would manage to earn enough to keep themselves fed and sheltered rather than wasting away in the gutter where they probably belong. But, even with our utopia’s total lack of need for satirists, Gary Shteyngart has managed to keep himself fed, sheltered, gutter-free and, as you’ll see if you google “Shteyngart + vodka,” frequently drunk.

Shteyngart has earned the sustenance and drunkenness. That satire is pointless in our current climate is inarguable, but we still have a few years left before hilarious literature in which nearly every sentence contains a delightful turn of phrase becomes the province only of those who attempt to produce it. He’s a funny guy and a great writer, and I hope he’s able to eat comfortably at least until he’s no longer of any value to our society. (You’ll notice I linked to a picture of him being funny rather than pick from the bountiful text examples of his hilarity. I do this because, as the GlobalTeens social network from his brilliant novel “Super Sad True Love Story” says in one of its many helpful tips, “Switch to Images today! Less words = more fun!”)

Super Sad True Love Story” chronicles the relationship between Lenny Abramov, son of Russian immigrants, book lover, and mid-level employee at a firm that aims to sell immortality to the super rich, and Eunice Park, daughter of Korean immigrants, shopping lover, and unemployed. In addition to the ups and downs of their relationship, we get the scoop on the fantastically dark world they live in. People spend all their time using their “apparats,” an unthinkable device that could only spring from the mind of the most deviant of satirists. An apparat keeps you constantly linked to everyone in the world and instantly provides any information the user needs. (Among other superlative features, it keeps you perpetually informed of your attractiveness to others, via an index whose name would be inappropriate to print here. Also inappropriate to print here are the names of the story’s most popular clothing lines.) America is so indebted to “The People’s Bank of China Worldwide” that a dollar has no value unless it’s pegged to the yuan. There are protests being waged by the poor against the rich. Translucent pants (no underwear) are popular. Hardcore pornography is considered mainstream entertainment. Books are relics: everyone hates the smell.

Super Sad True Love Story” obviously is a lying title, but that’s okay because it’s satire. As every other recommender out there has noted, it’s super and sad and a love story, but it’s not true. It’s fiction. Which would become rapidly obvious to the reader as its setting is far from the world of gumdrops, equality and plentiful currency that we currently enjoy.

So why read something so absurdly inapplicable to our current situation? I don’t know. It’s hilarious and brilliant, but so is this picture of a cat. I guess I just want to make sure Mr. Shteyngart is able to procure as much horseradish vodka and organ meat as he requires, at least until he finds a proper and relevant line of work and no longer requires my assistance.

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