July 24th, 2019


Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart

 The novel is primarily set in an increasingly dystopian future New York City. America has fallen victim to debt and foreign creditors are taking over, while a bellicose political leader fulminates (a surprisingly prescient divisive Trump-like figure for a novel written in 2010). But the story itself is (as billed) a love story.

The book has some parallels to Less, particularly the similarity of the main character to the author ... in this case, middle aged New York Russian immigrant Jews pursuing Asian girls as love matches. Less won a Pulitzer Prize, but I prefer SSTLS, though both give me slight cases of the creeps. Some clever wordsmithing, some humor, some pathos... a more satisfying story on the whole, even if some aspects of the love story seem extremely implausible.

Perhaps the most enjoyable device of the book is the alternating chapters, half of them written in a high literary style by the well-read protagonist (whose love of old books is disparaged in the dystopian future) -- the other half in the Facebook-y-LiveJournal-y lingo of his much younger girlfriend. Both are effective at revealing character.