Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Book Review | Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Hello all, thanks for joining me and welcome back to my second blog for Ma Bicyclette!

Unlike my first entry in the big bad world of blogging, this one is actually about a book. As I previously mentioned, my book of choice was a saucy little number called "Super Sad True Love Story" by Gary Shteyngart, and bestselling author of "Absurdistan". Now I admit, I had neither heard of, or read any of Mr Shteyngart's previous work, until a friend recommended this 'classic' for our book club. I use the term 'classic' very loosely for a variety of reasons, and so begins my review of "Super Sad True Story"...

Ma Bicyclette: Book Review | Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Firstly I must make a confession. I hold my hands up to the fact that I haven't actually finished the book. Now this isn't because of my laziness, or because I am an epically slow reader, it is due to the overwhelming fact that this text is MASSIVELY BORING!
I'm sorry again if this was not the kind of thing people were expecting from a literature blog post, but I cannot pretend that I enjoyed the 150 pages I did manage to drag myself through, and I am DEFINATELY not willing to recommend this to a friend, even if my life depended on it. Well, actually, if my life was resting in the hands of a positive review, maybe I would lie, but I would do it with a sly wink so you wouldn't have to go through the horror.

Ok, so the general jist is that in a very near future, social media and technology have taken over the show and the entire human population are consumed by the urge to remain young, and most of all super-cool. Our main character is a middle-aged Lenny Abramov, who is the pinnacle of uncool, is mocked by his 'hip' colleagues and most of all rejected by man and especially woman, the world over. On his travels for 'Post Human Services' (an organisation who aim to provide immortality for the super-rich), he meets and in essence falls for our heroine, Eunice Parks. Eunice is a young, potty mouthed graduate, down with all the linguo and what is important in this new modern age - like how many followers you have online and how often you update your statuses (notice some similarities?).

My problem with this book is it feels like trawling through treacle with a ten pound weight strapped to each ankle. The narrative switches between Lenny and Eunice, with a few exchanges done in the style of computer instant messaging and emails between Eunice and her equally shallow and uninteresting friends. Lenny's narratives are generally pretty dull, with passages about life in a possibly 'not too distant' future where he feels too old to fit in but has to, and tedious obsessing passages, bordering in a very close to sex-pest way, about Eunice and his developing relationship with her.

I can see what Shteyngart was trying to do with this, don't get me wrong. He is looking at how technology, social media, everyone knowing everything about everyone's lives through constant personal online updates (Twitter anyone?), could go too far and become a hindrance. These things that prevent us all from being in the now and enjoying real life experiences because half our thoughts are with how we can make it into a funny Facebook status. But it isn't an orignal idea. It's something that has been discussed by many others, through film, literature and music in the past few years and to be honest, isn't really catching my attention anymore. Also Shteyngart's dark attempts at humour are forced and actually quite obvious. The results? You will end up rolling your eyes, rather than rolling on the floor from hearty belly laughs.

As I said, I know it's not traditional to review a book you haven't finished, and some might say I don't have much of a right without the full picture, but I... just... couldn't. And I highly recommend you don't either.

P.S. My next book is "The End of Mr Y" by Scarlett Thomas, and I promise, hand on heart, that I will finish this one :)

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