SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY
by Gary Shteyngart
A book review by weird speculative fiction author Ted Fauster
By reading this review you are denying its existence and complying consent
The third novel from Russian-American satirist Gary Shteyngart is a refreshing dystopian, absurdist, slipstream, near-future political romp that stands up exceptionally well to the times. Given our current political situation, this book just might be what America needs to be reading right now.
Told through the detailed and quite expressive diary entries of one Lenny Abramov (a hilariously neurotic and naive life extension salesman living in New York), and the electronic messages of Eunice Park (his would-be Korean-American girlfriend more than a decade younger), the book fluctuates between these two very different POVs, serving up two halves of an unbalanced and possibly doomed whole. This is the love story. But the illusory and elusive promise of everlasting bliss often blinds us from the harsh realities of the world.
For me to fall in love with Eunice Park just as the world fell apart would be a tragedy beyond the Greeks.
As far as our dear narrator is concerned, truer words might never have been spoken.
Shteyngart’s satirical wizardry propels this novel along at a breakneck pace while simultaneously offering plenty of opportunities for reflection. Think the world is fucked up now? Just give this little book a read.
Where to start…
A good drop-in point might be the fact that China is about to call in all its loans to a consumerist United States now so far up its own ass that every citizen might need a window installed in their stomach just to see where they are going. Not that that would help. Everyone with a pulse has their nose buried in their apparats (the future’s even more annoying equivalent to a smart phone), even as the grip of a totalitarian police state keeps tightening, even as a war with Venezuela keeps pressing uncomfortably close to home, throwing a (possibly much-needed) wrench into the whole vapid mess.
At its true center, this book explores the widening divide between the haves and the half-nots, fueled by an out-of-control generational chasm distancing the newer, younger world obsessed with image and technology, constantly rating themselves and each other, and the geriatric regime spinning its wheels to keep up.
What was especially appealing for me is the way Shteyngart brilliantly sets you up. At times, the narrative seems obvious, drawing you toward conclusions that are inevitably shattered. What were you expecting? Once you begin to feel comfortable with this strange new world, everything takes a sudden and unexpected turn.
If you’re looking for a flashy, depressing futuristic read you might want to pass. This really is a love story, not just between two oddly paired individuals, but between mankind’s obsession with defeating the ultimate bummer, death itself.
Eternal life is the only life that matters, All else is just a moth circling a light.