Jan 02, 11
Read from December 08 to 18, 2010
UPDATE: 1/2/11 - Random troll reminded me I had never done a full review of this book.
I had so many problems with this book I have trouble narrowing it down into something concise. The main character, Lenny Abraham, is just awful. Kind of sort of so is Gary Shteyngart. (Surprise! They're both children of Russian immigrants and I'd bet money that Gary lives in Manhattan. And by the end of the novel, both are published authors!) The book presents an America of the not-too-distant-future via what Shteyngart must think is oh so clever satire - women wear OnionSkin jeans (sheer pants worn without underwear) and shop at AssLuxury and JuicyPussy; no one reads actual books because they "smell." Everyone carries around tiny mobile devices called Apparats (there are some umlauts in there but I just don't give a fuck), which broadcast all your most intimate details while also acting as your blackberry/videophone/deusexmachina. As a sci-fi fan, the thing that bothered me most about Apparats was a complete lack of explanation as to how they worked. They're described as being the size of a necklace pendant. How is anyone reading off of that?
And maybe due to my wrong approach or wrong focus, I just didn't "get" it. But what is there to get? Shteyngart mocks Fox News and corporate oligarchy. Every time young Eunice Park emails her Korean mother, Mrs. Park responds in such a poorly-worded manner, I felt racist just reading it (seriously Gary, the woman's lived in America for 20 years. There is no reason for every email of hers to read like a shitty 80's comedian bit - YOU BIN HEAH FOW OWAS!) Every time Lenny points out a misspelled sign to his dear readers, it's one that's been written by a group that is surely ESL. The book is broken up between 2 points of view - Lenny's journal entries and Eunice's emails/chats. Eunice is shallow and manipulative and supremely fucked up in regards to relationships, and if the entire book were from her perspective, I still would've had an awful time getting through it. But Lenny was just so repulsive, I found myself anticipating her chapters as a breath of fresh air.
But I digress. In short: awful book I only finished because I paid for it. I've read a lot of books, and I've read a lot of ACTUAL super sad true love stories. This was just super, sad, and stupid.
According to my Kindle, I'm 20% into this book. With every page turn, I keep summoning my inner Dworkin and repeating, mantra-like, "This book was definitely written by a white male."