Super Sad True Love Story

Gary Shteyngart

Once again, Gary Shteyngart—the witty author of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook—draws heavily on his heritage as a Russian-Jewish immigrant to create a tortured protagonist in his latest book, Super Sad True Love Story. Though not quite as funny as Absurdistan, this follow-up is still pretty darned good. Lenny Abramov is a hedonist looking for love in all the wrong places, and he ends up finding out that, for him, it was at home with his parents. The book seems to take place in a future time somewhere between today and the future depicted in the 2006 movie Idiocracy. As with Idiocracy, the theme here has to do with being a slave to, or victim of, the impersonalization of high-tech greed. In Shteyngart’s brave new world, everyone’s credit rating is registered on “credit poles” they pass while walking down the street. Irony abounds in the similarities between this ramped-up version of America and that of today. They text a little more fiercely on their “äppäräts” than some people now do on their iPhones, but not by much. The story alternates each chapter between Lenny’s diary and the text messages of his girlfriend Eunice. The irony is, even though she is a lot tougher than Lenny, Eunice can still open up to others just as well via her texting as he can to himself.