Super Sad True Love Story
By: Gary Shteyngart
Paige’s Rating: (4) of 5
Recommended for: Fiction- Futuristic Dystopian Demise Style
Super Sad True Love Story belies almost every word of its title, but it still plunges us into a satirical realm that we can recognize if we open our eyes widely. Restless, middle-aged, maladjusted Lenny Abramov and young Eunice Park, his somewhat reluctant old-fashioned love interest alternate as narrators, each of them projecting a slightly twisted view of an even more twisted reality.
This book was given to me by a friend who was a little hesitant to have me read it. “I know you hated ‘The Road’ and so I don’t know how much you will like this book.” Being that it was one of those dystopian themed books, I understood and shared in his skepticism. However, unlike ‘The Road’ which was merely a plot less pointless waste of time, this book had a lot of redeeming aspects that made me actually give it 4 of 5 stars.
The setting of this book is somewhere in the (hopefully not) near future, where America has been completely destroyed by its greedy corporations and China is bailing us out but ready to foreclose. In this America, everything is dominated by the Media and Retail, as these are the highly sought after jobs for people. The Media people spend time video blogging everything, checking their Global Teens account and my favorite, assessing their fuckability, personality and credit scores. The Retail people are sure to wear the latest fashion of see-though pants and nipple-less bras. Even though the future is designed around not so far-fetched ideas, I still give Shteyngart props for drawing in today’s social networking hype and exploiting it realistically.
The characters were, well, a different story. Lenny is a 40 year old man who is single and quite lonely. He is desperate to give love and be in love about as much as he is desperate to obtain high fuckability scores in the local bars. He is a fish out of water: a man who is financially responsible but socially childish. There could be a lot of redeeming qualities about him, but I just read about a very weak and pathetic man. And maybe that was Shteyngart’s goal. The female protagonist, Eunice, is 24 years old and is actually unconcerned about her fuckability. Rather, she seems to try to live her life according to the strict traditions of her family. She seems, ironically, more emotionally mature than Lenny but a financial train wreck. Thus, they both need each other for balance. Their personalities are interesting; however, I find them a bit difficult to relate to as they don’t seem like anyone I remotely know.
The plot is good. It starts out describing the relationship between Lenny and Eunice, but through this you see the state of America, crumbling. In this way, the book is hard to read because you know the climax is going to contain doom and gloom for America. Yet, you aren’t sure if Lenny and Eunice’s relationship will meet the same end. So you keep turning the pages.
I also liked how the book was written by the point-of-view of the two characters through their Global Teens account. This, I thought was a good way to present the book.
Overall, I would suggest “Super Sad True Love Story” if you are indeed, ready for just that.