Book Review: Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story

Super Sad True Love StorySuper Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My real rating for this book would be one star, but I think that’s unfair of me because I didn’t finish it. I used to always finish books. What’s happened to me?

What is interesting and impressive about the book is the way he caught a global zeitgeist that seems to have come true in the four years since the book was published. The ‘äppäräts’ that people wear around their necks, to rate other people, find out information about them, and I assume communicate with each other, seems like a combination of an iWatch, google glasses and smart phones.

The world of the book, hyper-technological, sarcastic and harsh, seems not far off from where we are today.

Michiko Kakutani gave this book and its ‘antic, supercaffeinated prose’ a rave review in the New York Times, but it was this same prose that I finally just couldn’t read anymore of: I just had a lack of feeling, emotion and development. The schlubby unattractive and Eunice-obsessed character Lenny was unpleasant and uninteresting. Pretty young Eunice speaks in annoying late-teens talk, and seems a mess herself.

As an Asian-Canadian, I felt uncomfortable with Eunice’s Mom speaking in shrill Ching-lish, with the way Eunice is eroticized, and the way she bounces between unattractive Lenny and an age-enhanced 70-year-old; it’s sign-posted early that she has too low self-esteem to date handsome and successful boys her own age.

The prose reminded me of exuberant, self-conscious young American male writers, a little Franzen, a little Eggers perhaps, but I just couldn’t lock in. Two unpleasant characters living in an ugly world that’s falling apart. I feel faintly pleased to see I’m not alone, a surprising number of other Goodreads reviewers seem to not have been able to finish the book either!

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