Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
I just finished this book and I’m still unsure as to whether I liked it or not. It almost felt like work to read. The love story between Lenny Abromov and Eunice Park begins with a fling in Italy during time abroad for both of them and continues as they return to a futuristic New York. This new New York exists in a United States which has been demoted as a world power and is essentially a police state, which Lenny is learning the hard way. In a very clever way, Shteyngart has taken familiar tidbits of our media-laden culture and driven them forward. People wear “apparati” around their necks, essentially a cellphone-like device that not only streams broadcasts of individuals ranting and newscasts (much like our Facebook), but also is capable of projecting everything from your current net worth to your cholesterol levels. There is some sarcasm in this but there is also a very dismal look toward our future, as this story unfolds.
I think the reason this book felt like work to read was that not only was the overall outlook so daunting, but the characters, mainly Lenny and Eunice, were not even very likable. I was curious to hear what would come of New York City more than what would come of Lenny and Eunice. I think the so-called love that existed between Lenny and Eunice was the kind of stupid love that existed between Romeo and Juliette (another unexplainable love story) — it just doesn’t make any sense. Lenny sees her and is infatuated with her and she treats him like dirt and he continues to love her . And then she begins to love him!
The book is extremely imaginative and interesting for its foresight and criticisms of our current culture. It makes a strong statement about our current lack of value for education and reading and our constant need for media of any type. However, it would have been more engaging if the characters had more charm and if their super sad love story was just a little more true.