Liked this a lot better than The Shining. The plot sticks together. The characters are more cohesive. The whole thing just holds up a lot better. It's...moreLiked this a lot better than The Shining. The plot sticks together. The characters are more cohesive. The whole thing just holds up a lot better. It's more believable. I think Stephen King is a better writer now. However it wasn't perfect. I kind of felt like he could do better. Like he whips the books out too fast, or doesn't give them as much depth as they could have. Like he's a bit too much flash and not enough substance. Is it too much to ask for substance in your genre fiction? Maybe, but it can be done and he always comes off seeming almost, but not quite good enough. Still a very fun read.(less)
This was a great read. Romance and evil villains and minor theatricals. A from rags-to-riches kind of tale. It was relaxing to read about a time where...moreThis was a great read. Romance and evil villains and minor theatricals. A from rags-to-riches kind of tale. It was relaxing to read about a time where things moved only as fast as your feet (or your horses) and not faster than your brain can conceive of. If everyone today read a course of Dickens I think we'd be much less stressed out and more happy. Turn off your screens.(less)
I quite loved this book. Shteyngart lived in Leningrad until he was seven. He suffered from severe asthma and was beaten by his father and called Fail...moreI quite loved this book. Shteyngart lived in Leningrad until he was seven. He suffered from severe asthma and was beaten by his father and called Failyurka (little failure) by his mother. He also poignantly describes waiting in line for three hours at the Gastronom for one desiccated eggplant. Ah, life in the former Soviet Union.
Then they move to Queens and he goes to Hebrew School with no English or Hebrew. It takes him a few years to pick up English and he is decidedly unpopular, but he comforts himself that there are a few boys less popular even than he.
He has already started writing. Even in Leningrad he wrote a story for his Grandmother. He has conceived of a secret desire to be a writer, even though he knows he is supposed to be a lawyer. His parents have a very strict life planned for him.
He goes to Stuyvesant, a prestigious high school in Manhattan and Oberlin for College. He has a hard time fitting in and thinks it is because he is an immigrant, but it sounded to me pretty much the way almost everybody feels in high school and college. He starts drinking pretty heavily and doing some drugs.
He describes he first love affair tenderly and his second as somewhat bizarre. His finds a mentor and a patron, a benefactor, he calls him, who patiently goes over the manuscript of his first novel with him many times, and takes his abuse. Shteyngart is terribly human, full of a need to be loved and appreciated; wretched, from the scars of his childhood.
He intersperses stories about his parents throughout the book. He seems to be leading to a big reveal of some horror at the end, but either the horror was imaginary or I missed it. Perhaps it was that his father bloodied his nose.
There are pictures and he was such an adorable child, but turned into an average, kind of funny-looking adult. I think he's just now beginning to grow into his face again.
As a person of Russian Jewish descent who was also an unpopular nerd in school with a desire to write, I found the whole thing very affecting. A must read for immigrants. And a great success story. Congratulations, Gary Gnu!(less)
2013. Brilliant book. In an America-gone-wrong in 2023 there's exists an apartheid state. Right here in New England, people of color are living in an...more2013. Brilliant book. In an America-gone-wrong in 2023 there's exists an apartheid state. Right here in New England, people of color are living in an inland forced-work-camp area, making the products the rest of us consume. Back on the other side of the wall advertising, now called Pop Show, is everywhere, and Sterling is a secret saboteur, working sometimes for years, just to take down a few jumbo-tron like screens of advertising for a few hours. When Sterling (white female) meets Lore (black female) non-violent revolutionary from inside the apartheid area, sexual sparks fly as they argue about what to do to change their worlds. It's poignantly tragic how little they really can do in this world of horrifying limitations. Must read. Reminds me a little of The Handmaid's Tale except it's a racially split world rather than religious.(less)
2012. Like brain candy. Like if Stephen King was a really good writer. Lyrical zombie apocalypse novel set in NYC. What more could you ask for? Genuin...more2012. Like brain candy. Like if Stephen King was a really good writer. Lyrical zombie apocalypse novel set in NYC. What more could you ask for? Genuinely harrowing at times, funny, the language is stunning. Clever. Why didn't I give it more stars? Well it's the characterization I guess. The book is suspenseful and plot driven, but the protagonist, Mark Spitz, is pretty shell-shocked and just not very compelling, and neither do you get to know any of the other characters very well. So, while i think Colson Whitehead should try to dethrone Stephen King in the horror game, he may need to work on his characterization a little first.(less)