August 27, 2010

Super super super book trailer

Gary Shteyngart's book trailer for Super sad true love story is a smash hit on youtube -- well, for a clip about books anyway

Many thanks to Random House for these four minutes of delirium which made me laugh and laugh and laugh. The script (written by Shteyngart) made me laugh, Edmund White (up there in my pantheon of favourite writers and people ever since I was invited along to an interview with him a few years ago and started reading my way through all his books) made me laugh and want to throw my arms around him, Jay McInerney made me laugh and shriek with disbelief at how funny he was, James Franco made me laugh and melt with how cool and adorable he is. These are not the only friends/literary stars Gary Shteyngart put into the trailer, but they are the ones who are still making me laugh out loud even now that I’ve watched it half a dozen times.

I had never read anything by Gary Shteyngart but the trailer was so funny I went to look for the book right away, only to discover that there’s already a waiting list for it, so I took his second book Absurdistan (the first was The Russian debutante’s handbook) instead. I’ve gotten to page 135 and I’m taking it back without reading the last 200 pages because it’s one of those books where the jokes are more important than the plot, which could be fine, except they’re pretty much all the same joke. It just can't hold a candle to A Confederacy of Dunces, whose spirit it sometimes appears to emulate.

Still I’m happy to have read far enough to reach a very good line on page 130 (I marked the place so I could write about it). The scene is Svani City, the capital of Absurdistan, “a small country south of Russia” a bit small also on democracy. The hero of the book, like Shteyngart a Russian Jew who emigrated to America, goes to the Svani Hyatt for a lunch with “Josh” from the American Embassy-cum-American upper class whom he irritates when he shows him up for not wanting to spring for extra fries for the hungry “native democrat” he’d invited to lunch with them. The line is “I watched Josh Weiner unfurl his lower lip my way, menacing me with his active cold sore.”

Gary Shteyngart was featured in this year’s The New Yorker’s 20 under 40 fiction issue. You can read the Q&As and his story “Lenny hearts Eunice” (the germ of Super sad true love story) in The New Yorker online.

I nearly forgot: James Franco really did take a class from Gary Shteyngart when he was a graduate student at Columbia.

Ditulis Oleh : tosca // 03:30


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