Tag Archives: book

Read a Book: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

14 Mar

Having consumed an awful lot of Sci Fi and / or Post-Apocalyptic books over the past year – Justin Cronin’s The Passage, John Birmingham’s Without Warning, Jonathan Lethem’s Chronic City etc etc – I had high expectations for this novel.

 

 

Super Sad True Love Story

Super Sad True Love Story

 

 

Not only was there the excellent write up in the New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” issue, but reviews in such highly regarded papers including the Washington Post and New York Times made Gary Shtyngart’s new novel out to be one of the greatest satirical, sci fi, dystopian novels of recent years.

A quick plot overview also makes this out to be a great read:

Set in a world sometime in the (not too distant) future, main man Lenny Abramov returns to New York City from a sojourn in Rome – back to his job (converting ‘High Net Worth Individuals’ to live forever) while perusing his love for the beautiful Eunice Park.

His is a world where everyone is connected via their äppäräti (like an iPad fueled with Facebook on steroids) and work for multi-merged companies like UnitedContinentalDeltamerica and ColgatePalmoliveYum!BrandsViacomCredit. China rules the world, the Yuan is the main currency and  1 Euro is worth $USD8.64.

Overlaying this is Lenny’s flailing attempts to love Eunice, have her love him back, while an impending crisis of astronomical proportions brews towards the inevitable end.

Like Brett Easton Ellis writing for Futurama, this is a fantastically over-the-top novel steeped with enough satirical commentary to salvage it from being a comic book sans the pictures.

One of the oddest, most uncomfortable love stories you’re likely to read, the main issue is that from about a third of the way through, the story get’s stuck in a loop that it struggles to get out of. Like the incesent news feeds on Twitter or Facebook, the noise of the novel is interesting (made up of Instant Messages, Diary Entries and Observations), however it doesn’t push along the plot.

Once escaping, the story gallops towards its exhilarating conclusion, though a good edit would have made this a more excellent rather than okay read.

Robot Rating: 6.5/10

Book #13#50bookchallenge

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Read a Book: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

3 Mar

“Time’s a goon right? Isn’t that the expression?” Jules had drifted over from across the room. “I’ve never heard that… time is a goon?”

A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Apparently so. Which makes Time and the passing of it the very loose theme that loosely weaves this quirky, rock n roll laden book into coherency. Listed time and time again on numerous reviewers’ and authors Top Reads for 2010 (many of them found on the very necessary Book Site The Millions – like here and here ), usually incorporating the words; punk rock, drugs and rock and roll, 1970s music and washed up punk rockers – and the attraction was instant.

Unlike many books that try to set themselves against a backdrop of a nostalgic musical era, The Goon Squad was a compelling, quirky, sometimes uncomfortable read. Structured as a series of short stories, the central characters each have the voice of protagonist, as the story zig zags through time, the speaker’s identity not always immediately clear, clues as to the existence or age of children, state of marriage or mind the indicative clues.

At the centre of this time shifted story is Bennie Salazar, once a 1970s Punk Rocker, in the present, a washed up producer struggling on both the musical and matrimonial front. From there the stories spiral outwards, taking in Sasha – his kleptomaniac assistant, Scotty – the once musically talented, now virtually homeless trash collector, Dolly the tortured publicist, Kitty the B grade celebrity… and the list goes on.

As time lurches backwards and forwards, from the early hay days of playing punk rock and slam dancing, through turbulent twenties and thirties of broken love and friendships, drug and mental abuse through to the misery and acceptance of middle age, we follow and slowly warm to these broken characters as they fight off the tyranny of the inevitable Goon Squad that is time.

With an ending that will please any true music fan, this should get a look in for your top reads of 2011. And if you’re accused of being late to the party – just blame it on the Goon Squad.

“Time’s a Goon right? You gonna let that Goon push you around?” Scotty shook his head “The Goon won”

Robot Rating: 9/10 (and yet another contender for Top 5 Books of the Year)

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