Gary Shteyngart was sipping a vodka tonic in a roomful of writers at PowerHouse Arena in Dumbo last night. It was a particularly cold evening, so I asked him how the weather in New York compared to St. Petersburg, where Mr. Shteyngart was born.
The Future is Here
The Prada flagship store in Soho—oh, you know, that $40 million block-size Rem Koolhaas-designed imposition smothered in black glass that opened just weeks after 9/11—is not the place one wanders into expecting a quiet reading from established novelists.
And yet, against all odds, the temple to Italian couture staged such an event last week, even Read More
In this week’s New Yorker, Gary Shteyngart chronicles his adventures wearing Google Glass. Russian émigré novelist Mr. Shteyngart is a prime candidate to pioneer the technology. After all, his last book, Super Sad True Love Story, foretold a near-future that was eerily prescient.
Mr. Shteyngart envisioned a device called an äppärät, which was basically an even more powerful smartphone, that constantly beamed a stream of information and data to the characters. But in early drafts, Mr. Shteyngart was even more ahead of the curve.
He had conceived something more akin to … well, Google Glass.
It's a dog's life
Early on in Gary Shteyngart’s first novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, the fickle protagonist, Vladimir Girshkin, a 25-year-old employee at the fictional Emma Lazarus Immigrant Absorption Society in New York, has gone to Westchester to receive his perennial guilt trip and a free meal from his parents. Vladimir’s mother has become a moderately successful businesswoman in the U.S. after the family’s departure from their native Leningrad, the city from which Mr. Shteyngart himself emigrated when he was 7. When Vladimir attempts escape to catch the 4:51 train back to the city, his mother, drunk on rum, detains him and makes him pace the house’s master bedroom.
“You walk like a Jew,” she tells him. “I’ve been keeping my eyes on you for years, but it just hit me today, your little Jew-walk. Come here, I’ll teach you to walk like a normal person.” Vladimir braces himself for a long afternoon.
Author Gary Shteyngart’s dachshund wrote to BAM to express his canine concern about his owner at the upcoming Gary Shtenygart Roast, a “Friar’s Club style” roast where Mr. Shtenygart’s friends will take shots at the writer to mark the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the publication of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook.
“Last night, while my favorite human Gary Shteyngart was dripping gherkin juice and pickled cod balls onto his green polyester shirt, I noticed a tear trickling down his face,” wrote Felix the dachsund, in remarkably similar prose to his human owner. “I peered over his slumped shoulder and saw on the interwebs that in a couple weeks, some famous people are gathering at BAM to make fun of him.”
Paul LaFarge’s new novel, Luminous Airplanes, is both a regularly formatted novel and an online “hyperromance” (for more on what that means read the history he just wrote over at Salon). For his book party then, he decided he couldn’t just have cheese cubes, wine and the usual sidelong glances and gossip. Instead he organized a participatory experience of his work that was something between a haunted house and a contemporary art installation.
They summer in the colonies, the writers of New York, scattering forth to the hills as the days grow more sultry: to Yaddo, to MacDowell, to Millay and Ledig House! They go to work, of course, to work uninterruptedly and produce literary classics, and then, after all that exhaustive working, to play Ping-Pong and drink. Read More
The Morning News today posted an interview with super-acclaimed Super Sad Love Story novelist Gary Shteyngart in which the “very tired” Manhattan writer opines on taking Atavan to sleep, his favorite season of “The Wire,” and why the information age is dooming us.
“The society we live in is so stressful,” he said. Read More
On Saturday afternoon, a security guard sat in the back seat of an idling white jeep, watching over a 2.1-acre patch of dirt near the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. There was an overflowing can of garbage next to the car’s front bumper and a puddle of groundwater nearby. Just across the canal, against the backdrop Read More
Today: The Times Book Review gets its hands on Super Sad True Love Story. According to Michael Wood, “The sheer exhilaration of the writing in this book … is itself a sort of answer to the flattened-out horrors of the world it depicts.”
Previously this summer:
- Michiko Kakutani Read More