Satire: literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn.
Kurt Vonnegut, David Sedaris, and Carl Hiaasen move over and make room on my bookshelf for my new favorite satirist Gary Shteyngart. Born in Leningrad and raised in New York, Mr. Shteyngart has written three novels – The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (2002), Absurdistan (2006), and Super Sad True Love Story (2010). Lots of literary folks have lavished his works with praise and major awards.
Set in the not-so-distant future, Super Sad True Love Story is exactly what its title says it is. Lenny, a collector of media artifacts (books), is “old school.” Much younger Eunice has a college degree in “… Images with a minor in Assertiveness.” He falls hard for her, and then hearts are broken.
In an over-digitized, bankrupt America an abysmal divide exists between the young and rich and the broken down and poor. Instead of Occupy Wall Street, the New York parks are filled with “Low Net Worth Individuals” who launch a revolution. Or was the “rupture” an inside job funded by the Chinese in order to make the final push to take over the United States’ financial systems?
The book pokes fun at our emerging social media world of non-reading consumers who spend way too much time self-promoting on electronic personal devices. Imagine a world where people read only to scan data and they consume a constant diet of un-validated “stream of consciousness” content. Sort of like Jerry Springer meets PBS News Hour in real time. What is scary-funny about this 1984 gone sideways world is that the technologies to facilitate it are in place today. With global positioning satellite applications, smart phones, and near field communication radio technology, the world of Lenny and Eunice and all the Low Net Worth Individuals is right around the corner. Or maybe by next Tuesday as Mr. Shteyngart is fond of saying.
Assuming a Mr. Bean-like persona, the author takes a cue from his SSTLS characters and stars in a humorous social media video to promote his book. Thank goodness his writing is better than his comedic timing.
After reading Super Sad True Love Story, I cannot wait to get started on the other books. Mr. Shteyngart, I super truly look forward to your long writing career.