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Lake Success

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3.64  ·  Rating details ·  4,823 ratings  ·  751 reviews
Myopic, narcissistic, hilariously self-deluded and divorced from the real world as most of us know it, hedge fund manager Barry Cohen oversees $2.4 billion in assets. Deeply stressed by an SEC investigation and by his 3 year-old-son's diagnosis of autism, he flees New York on a Greyhound bus in search of a simpler, more romantic life with his old college sweetheart, whom h ...more
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Published September 4th 2018 by Books on Tape
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Jim You didn't read to the end, did you? If you had you'd have your answers. He tried going back to his old job for awhile. But it didn't really pan out.…moreYou didn't read to the end, did you? If you had you'd have your answers. He tried going back to his old job for awhile. But it didn't really pan out. Eventually he did quit and became a full-time watch collector and then sold his collection after attending his son's barmitzvah and finding out that he really didn't know what was going on with anyone. He resigns from even wanting to be in another relationship... by design.(less)
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Community Reviews

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3.64  · 
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 ·  4,823 ratings  ·  751 reviews


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Emily May
The roof garden was divided into roughly two demographics: capital on one side, and cultural capital on the other. It wasn’t quite as split as a Hasidic wedding, gender-wise, but it was close enough, and Barry worked up the gumption to leave some of his Wall Street bros behind and wade into the more dangerous territory of feminine culture-meisters.

Lake Success contains some interesting themes and I can see why the critics are eating it up. It's also a good candidate for any number of literary
...more
Liz
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars

Let me start off by saying the main character, Barry, is a total and complete asshole. If you don’t like books where you dislike the main characters, this is one to steer clear of. Barry, to me, was fingers on the blackboard grating. I mean, what is it with the bloody watches? This is someone you want to feel something for, in a positive way, but I couldn’t. His son is on the severe end of the autism spectrum. All those dreams of a normal family have gone away. He’s incapable of even te
...more
BlackOxford
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
Compensating For Everything

It’s been about 30 years since Sherman McCoy in Bonfire of the Vanities and Patrick Bateman in American Psycho satirically demonstrated the excesses promoted by wealth in the financial industry of New York City. Both books followed hot on the heels of the real Ivan Boesky’s ‘Greed is Good’ commencement address at UC Berkeley (and, of course Gordon Gekko’s equivalent speech in the film Wall Street). Barry Cohen in Lake Success is a resurrection of the type: insanely arr
...more
Ron Charles
Adjust your expectations when you pick up Gary Shteyngart’s “Lake Success.” His new book is not insanely funny nor hilariously absurd.

It’s better than that. A mature blending of the author’s signature wit and melancholy, “Lake Success” feels timely but not fleeting. Its bold ambition to capture the nation and the era is enriched by its shrewd attention to the challenges and sorrows of parenthood.

Barry Cohen, the glad-handing protagonist of “Lake Success,” repels our sympathy even while laying cl
...more
Jill
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There has been a lot of talk about what constitutes the American novel but for my money, Success Lake is the American novel for these times.

Although the Trump election is not front and center it pervades everything; it’s a time when amorality and greediness are “punished” by a slap on the wrist. Into this poisonous atmosphere leaps Barry Cohen, a hedge fund manager of a This Side of Capital (lifted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise.)

By all outward appearances, Barry lives the Ame
...more
Susan Kennedy
Nope, I can't do it; I can't continue to try to read this book that I hate. I despise the characters and the story isn't captivating at all. I've tried to give it a chance, but when I look at the book and try to read another page it is painful to think about. Definitely not the book for me. Maybe for someone else.

I don't get them at all. Rich and snobby? Completely withdrawn from their child because he is Autistic? They are shallow and nothing is making any kind of sense at all. I'm just not sur
...more
Darwin8u
"Like your first ankle monitor bracelet or your fourth divorce, the occasional break with reality was an important part of any hedge-fund titan's biography"
- Gary Shteyngart, "Lake Success"

description

Like great Indian food, I'm not exactly sure why this novel works for me, but GOD this book was delicious. OK, so I know SORTA why it works. It is brilliantly absurd, and sharp enough to almost immediately, and almost painlessly, draw blood. I kept thinking that this novel was like a mirror presenting this rid
...more
Drew
Apr 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmm. It's either a brilliant Candide-esque satire of the clueless wealthy idiots who got us into our current mess (maybe they didn't vote for Trump but they thought about it!, etc) or it's a tone-deaf straight white liberal male asking questions about how we got here. And if you finish a book and wonder which one it is... chances are the answer isn't going to be positive.

Gary Shteyngart is the first of his cohort to bang out a proper Trump-responding novel - although this only tangentially conne
...more
Dan
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Lake Success, Gary Shteyngart channels what Philip Roth called “the indigenous American berserk” with sympathy, humor, and pathos. Always funny, Shteyngart encapsulates his deep understanding of contemporary America into the lives, loves, and failures of Barry and Seema Cohen ”during the year 2016, at the start of the First Summer of Trump.” Barry and Seema live in rarefied Manhattan in which the mother of a three-year-old boy worries that ”’If he doesn’t do well, forget Hunter, forget Ethica ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY, Shteyngart’s 2010 dystopian masterpiece, will remain one of my 50 favorite books of all time. Its haunting prescience convinced me that technology and social media had already dominated and intruded on our lives to chilling, sinister effect. Some of it is already dawning—the way we can destroy lives with Facebook or Twitter is just one example of the way we live now. LAKE SUCCESS isn’t quite as epic, and although there is a nod to the dystopian—just a sprinkle--this is ...more
Perry
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: deck
Shteyngart Blew It; Phallacies Come to be Too Much to Swallow

A quite humorous story about a hedge fund manager married to a gorgeous (and pregnant) Indian attorney who now stays at home in their highrise Manhattan condo to raise their autistic son.

Mr. Drexel-Burnham cracks from stress at work, experiences an existential crisis and goes on a bus trip to see his college flame/fiancee' in Texas.

Seemed great. More than halfway through the novel unfortunately, Gary Shteyngart shattered my delicate
...more
Meike
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, 2017-read
This is a witty book about how we define success, and how we might strife for what the term commonly entails instead of asking ourselves what makes us happy. Protagonist Barry Cohen is a wealthy hedge fund manager in New York, but when his 3-year-old son is diagnosed with autism, his marriage becomes strained. As he then also is confronted with an SEC investigation, Barry boards a Greyhound to flee his life and search for his college sweetheart.

Shteyngart plays with the classic American trope of
...more
Trish
I listened to this novel months ago—just about the time it came out. I haven’t been able to adequately put into words how I felt about it. This was the first time I’ve partaken of a Shteyngart novel, and it is more in every way than I was expecting. There is a shadow of Pynchon’s frank absurdity there, and some bungee-cord despair—the kind that bounces back, irrepressible.

Shteyngart’s novel is overstuffed with funny, sad, true, caustic, simplistic, derogatory observations about life in America
...more
Alex
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 rounded down

Gary Shteynghart’s Lake Success has been much hyped as one of the first works of literary fiction directly delving into the months leading up to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Despite having the occasional glimpse of well crafted satire and a lead character written to endear, Shteynghart has grossly missed the mark, attempting to redeem the individuals largely responsible for the political calamity we find ourselves in and asking us to have empath
...more
Rebecca
(2.75) I’ve rarely felt so conflicted about a book. When I started writing up my Pittsburgh Post-Gazette review (published here this past Sunday), I had little idea of what arguments I was going to make. (You can tell me whether you think I succeeded in making them!) I could almost have written the whole thing as a series of questions. What did I actually think of Lake Success?

I could appreciate that it was a satire on the emptiness of the American Dream – Shteyngart has many cutting lines about
...more
Bonnie
A few weeks back I read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and was terribly bothered by all the comments indicating Eleanor was on the autism spectrum. There is nothing in the book that would indicate to anyone who knows anything about autism they haven't learned from a very special episode of Law and Order that Eleanor was autistic. People seem to think that anyone withdrawn, anyone with difficulty interacting with others, is autistic. It makes me crazy. So, it is ironic that Lake Success and ...more
Ilana
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gene
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some unique, puzzling aspects of this book:

Virtually every character is identified, immediately, by their race or ethnicity. The narrator is whatever the opposite of colourblind is: colour comes first, then everything else. I’m unsure of the purpose of this.

Objects, on the other hand, are assigned dollar values. This actually makes sense much of the time as Barry, the protagonist, has a limited amount of cash on him on his trip, but it’s still jarring. It reminded me of the end of each episode o
...more
Barbara
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
A long time ago, I read Gary Shteyngart’s “Super Sad True Love Story” and LOVED it. He writes thought provoking novels about our culture and society. Shteyngart writes with incredible wit and satire. As a reader, I wanted to pay exceptional attention to each word, situation, and theme because his best work is in the minutia.

In “Lake Success” Shteyngart uses protagonist Barry Cohen as an utterly ridiculous, self absorbed, egotistic, unmonitored, and narcissistic individual. Barry is a hedge-fund
...more
Faith
I kept going, hoping for some sharp satire or insight about our society, but if it’s there I missed it. Frankly, the description of the hedge fund manager protagonist seemed too realistic to be satirical. Perhaps I would have liked the book more if I had never met any hedge fund managers. Just because a book mentions Trump a lot of times doesn’t mean it illuminates our times. After reading a third of the book I didn’t want to spend any more time with these people. I received a free copy of this ...more
David
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
I don't quite know what this novel wants to say about ourselves and our times, but I can say that my Kindle told me I was 44% of the way through the book (about 145 pages) before I looked up from this novel and said “Why I am actually concerned about the fate of all these loathsome people?” I think that is a sign that this book can be read for the sheer love of good story-telling, no matter what you think about the book's characters, or its message. I also laughed sometimes, which redeems almost ...more
Chris
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"We've all gone to look for America." Okay, not all of us. But Barry Cohen, the spectacularly wealthy -- and self-made -- hedge fund manager Barry Cohen has. He leaves his beautiful young wife, Seema, the daughter of immigrants, and his young son who is on the spectrum, and disappears on a Greyhound bus to see if he can rediscover the man he once was or (perhaps) the man he wanted someday to be. Barry and Seema are delusional, self-absorbed, and utterly perfect. Each is a mess, and I cared deepl ...more
Donna Davis
“’All I know is I never had any advantages,’ Barry said. ‘I wasn’t even lucky enough to be born to immigrant parents.’”

Schteyngart’s wry new novel takes a swift kick at the funny bone of the American ruling class. My thanks go to Net Galley and Random House for the review copy.

Barry grew up as the son of the pool guy, the man that serviced the swimming pools of the wealthy. Now between one trade and another—some of it inside, some of it legal—he has become one of the wealthiest men in Manhattan
...more
Jan
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shteyngart finds comic gold in this story of a hilariously obtuse, ultra-rich hedge fund manager fleeing his life on a Greyhound bus in the run-up to the November 2016 election.
Karyl
While this book is eminently readable (Shteyngart definitely knows how to write to keep the pages turning), as a liberal woman who's lived through the last two years under Trump, it was at times a very uncomfortable read. Barry Cohen is a hedge fund manager with an unimaginable amount of wealth, but when his son Shiva is diagnosed with autism and Barry's company attracts the notice of the feds, Barry flees New York on a Greyhound bus, leaving his son and his wife Seema, a first-generation Americ ...more
SueKich
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gary on Greyhounds.

Gary Shteyngart writes with an energy that makes most other writers today look like they use their keyboards as pillows for resting their sleepy heads. He chooses the archetypal symbol of capitalism through whom to tell his story, a financial wunderkind who has a complicated relationship with his (now dwindling) wealth. But the real subject here, beneath the topline plot, is the state of the nation. Or, to be more precise, the state of the people living in that nation. The bo
...more
Lemar
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is fresh-out-of-the-oven hot here in 2018. Shteyngart is able to dramatize facets of our fragmented country, give it a thorough shake and see what’s left standing.

Lake Success has my highest recommendation.
Dorothy
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know people who say they can't abide reading books that don't have characters that they can empathize or identify with. It's easy to understand that instinctual need to feel good about the characters that populate the book one has committed to reading. But I would argue that sometimes there is much to be learned from reading about unsympathetic characters; characters who, not to put too fine a point on it, are complete and total jerks. Barry Cohen is such a character.

Barry is everyone's stereo
...more
Mary Lins
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: complete
“Lake Success” was the first novel I’ve read by Gary Shteyngart, and what thought-provoking, heartbreaking, fun it was!

Our protagonist, Barry Cohen, a rich, watch-obsessed, hedge fund manager, staggers into the NYC Port Authority drunk and bleeding. Well now, I think, this is an intriguing start to a novel. So I let Shteyngart, via Barry, sweep me along with him on his bildungsroman across the US of A, via Greyhound Bus. On the trip, phone-less and mainly penniless, “One Percenter” Barry, is exp
...more
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Ending of Lake Success? 1 6 Jan 11, 2019 06:20AM  
  • Last Stories
  • Your Duck Is My Duck: Stories
  • Those Who Knew
  • Early Work
  • Pure Hollywood: And Other Stories
  • Property: Stories Between Two Novellas
  • The Feral Detective
  • A View of the Empire at Sunset
  • Boomer1
  • The Largesse of the Sea Maiden
  • Immigrant, Montana
  • How This Night Is Different: Stories
  • Inappropriation
  • The Golden State
  • Upstate
  • The Underground Railroad
  • Late in the Day
  • Memory Theater
1,120 followers
Gary Shteyngart is an American writer born in Leningrad, USSR (he alternately calls it "St. Leningrad" or "St. Leninsburg"). Much of his work is satirical and relies on the invention of elaborately fictitious yet somehow familiar places and times.

His first novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook (2002), received the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award.
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Hush, child. Don't be so hard on yourself. Everyone gets to start over again. This America, hon. One dream dies, you get another. 1 likes
“Being a full prof at the University of Texas at El Paso meant living like a managing director at Barclays. Barry had always wondered why people who were just upper-middle class in New York chose to stay there, given that they could live like minor dictators in the rest of the country. “You’re negative arbing yourself,” he used to say.” 1 likes
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