Margot's Reviews > All the Sad Young Literary Men

All the Sad Young Literary Men by Keith Gessen
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Nov 25, 2008

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Read in December, 2008

Gessen reveals the inner turmoil and insecurities of three intertwining young men, too well-educated for their own good. Sam, the Israeli-obsessed secular Jew with an Israeli girlfriend: "A one-state solution, he sometimes thought, a Jewish-Arab democracy, was the only way. But owning an apartment would also be nice." (38)
"His Google was shrinking. It was part of a larger failing, maybe, certainly, but to see it quantified...to see it numerically confirmed...it was cruel." (79)
Keith, the Russian-American whose time at Harvard is spent studying, studying, and sleeping on the couch while his roommate brings home girls such as the Vice President's daughter: "When you are twenty years old, and twenty-one, and twenty-two, and twenty-three, and twenty-four, what you want from people is that they tell you about you...you watch the world for the way it watches you." (68)
And Mark, a Menshevik scholar with a Russian wife, spends years wasting away in Syracuse on his dissertation: "Mark was a selfish person, perpetually imbibing information, sometimes alcohol, also food, and rarely giving anything back; his sole exports were theories ans sweat." (121)
They blunder their way from woman to woman, and they emerge on the other side of their quarterlife crises relatively unscathed. Gessen, a founding editor of the literary magazine n+1 (which happens to be on the bookflap bio of another author I'm reading right now also!), has achieved a better-than-average first novel.
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