Sep 17, 11
Read from September 05 to 17, 2011
I would like to give this a 3.5 if I could.
As I write this review, my dad is in the other room yelling "Representative!" into his phone to try to change his cellphone plan. Now he's saying "Increase messaging." Somehow these things seem like they came out of this book, or belong in there.
That's one thing I really liked about this book -- its totally accurate vision of where our culture is headed and, really, where we already are. It has some of that Don DeLillo-esque prescience that was on display in White Noise, but Shteyngart couldn't be more different from DeLillo in his style and affect. Rather than cool and dispassionate, he is messy and gushy and overly passionate, and I like that about him and this book. He might work the Russian-Jewish Sturm and Drang a bit too hard, but it all seems genuinely felt, and it's often funny and sad and real all at the same time.
Given all this praise, you might think I'd have liked this book more, and I want to like it more. But somehow it was also a bit unsatisfying. The author certainly has a keen take on our cultural whereabouts, but I don't know, I sort of wanted him to do more with it. The book is half a love story and half an indictment of our shallow lives, and I'm not sure the two halves fuse all that well. With everything seen through the haze of Lenny's pathetic lovestruck ways, the focus gets a bit too soft for my taste, and it's all a bit messy. I think I wanted him to try harder, smack me upside the head a little more instead of just amuse me, seem to have a clearer idea of where he was going with all this. But I must say that I will probably read Shytengart's other books now, too, and will probably enjoy them.