Review: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

super sadA side note before I begin my review: I’m absorbed in the world of Westeros once again, and reading more of A Dance with Dragons. I am trying to read other stuff as well, but this is occupying much of my reading time at the moment.

And now, on to Super Sad True Love Story.

This book has been on my radar since 2010, as it received literary attention that year, and from the cover and description, it looked different and interesting. I bought it in early 2011 at the airport in Cleveland, headed to Philly, while my boss at the time got a head and neck massage in a kiosk nearby and almost missed our flight, despite my urging that she “wrap it up”. Read about 30 pages on the plane, but after that, I decided to take a hiatus from reading it. Not sure why.

After reading the book, I can say it is definitely different. Hipsterish. Smart in a way that some people might miss. A poke at American shallowness and a glimpse into a dystopian future that could await us. And as the title promises, there’s a love story in there, as well. Lenny Abramov, pushing 40, balding, nerdy, falls for the young and beautiful Eunice Parks, a Korean girl whose main interests seem to be shopping online for the latest trends and pinging her friends and sister through the GlobalTeens network. This book seems to be both a spoof our current tech-obsessed culture and a gentle warning that we could be headed down the path to destruction of life as we know it. In SSTLS, China assumes financial control over the U.S. and any Low Net Worth Individuals (LNWI) are basically wiped out. Yikes!

Told through Lenny’s diary entries and Eunice’s GlobalTeens messages, SSTLS is a fully-imagined (not-so-distant) future world, full of its own catchphrases, new technologies and huge corporate conglomerates, F*ckability Ratings and more. Some of you may enjoy this poke at materialism; others may dismiss this novel entirely as hipsterish, pseudo-intellectual drivel dressed up in Cool People Words. I landed somewhere in the middle. At times, I was taken by the clever, slight humor Shteyngart infuses into the writing; at others, I was annoyed by the rather flat and mostly irritating characters and their self-absorbedness. (Is that a word?)

Glad I read it, but glad it’s done. Back to Westeros!

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