Sunday, August 22nd, 2010
The Short Take:
Shteyngart’s satiric novel, set in an all-to-possible near future, is just as frightening as it is funny. He’s the Jonathan Swift of our post-modern world. Wow!
The big “why” is, “Why haven’t I read Shteyngart before?” Man, have I been missing out.
In this novel he creates a future that is so outrageous yet so entirely beliveable you truly don’t know whether to laugh or cry. In his post literate world, corporations have merged into behemoths, America is on the brink of financial disaster, and people relate mostly through their digital devices. Sounds pretty possible to me.
Within that universe, he lets you inside the minds of two completely disparate individuals — the leads in this sort-of-love story. The 15 years difference in age is just the beginning of the gulf between them. Lenny is aging (not good), with a fondness for books (really not good). Eunice is a beautiful 86 pounds (very good) who stays glued to her digital device for shopping, streaming, and checking the status of others (also very good). In fact, the only thing they have in common is their parent’s immigrant status (his being Russian, hers being Korean), but their cultural backgrounds actually separate them further. Lenny adores her. As you can imagine, she’s more conflicted. And, the world around them is cracking apart.
Their story is revealed through each of their eyes in alternating chapters. He writes in a diary (shocking!). She sends messages through the future equivilents of texting and email. The utter and complete difference in their worlds and mind sets shines through brilliantly.
It’s a super shocking hilarious heart-breaking novel. But it’s also insightful touching tender sad. I loved it.
A Little Plot:
The night before he is to return to New York from Rome, Lenny meets Eunice at a party and instantly falls completely in love. Worried about the actions of her abusive father, Eunice soon returns to New York as well and moves in with Lenny, as much for convenience as anything else.
As their relationship develops, it changes both of them. At the same time, their world is fast approching a crisis that will change everything.
Sorry, that’s all you’re getting plot wise from me. You want more? Go to the book’s website by clicking here.