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Super Sad True Love Story [Format Kindle]

Gary Shteyngart
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)

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Descriptions du produit



june 1 
Rome–New York 

Dearest Diary,

 Today I’ve made a major decision: I am never going to die. Others will die around me. They will be nullified. Nothing of their personality will remain. The light switch will be turned off. Their lives, their entirety, will be marked by glossy marble headstones bearing false summations (“her star shone brightly,” “never to be forgotten,” “he liked jazz”), and then these too will be lost in a coastal flood or get hacked to pieces by some genetically modified future- turkey. 

Don’t let them tell you life’s a journey. A journey is when you end up somewhere. When I take the number 6 train to see my social worker, that’s a journey. When I beg the pilot of this rickety United- ContinentalDeltamerican plane currently trembling its way across the Atlantic to turn around and head straight back to Rome and into Eunice Park’s fickle arms, that’s a journey. 

But wait. There’s more, isn’t there? There’s our legacy. We don’t die because our progeny lives on! The ritual passing of the DNA, Mama’s corkscrew curls, his granddaddy’s lower lip, ah buh- lieve thuh chil’ren ah our future. I’m quoting here from “The Greatest Love of All,” by 1980s pop diva Whitney Houston, track nine of her eponymous first LP. 

Utter nonsense. The children are our future only in the most narrow, transitive sense. They are our future until they too perish. The song’s next line, “Teach them well and let them lead the way,” encourages an adult’s relinquishing of selfhood in favor of future generations. The phrase “I live for my kids,” for example, is tantamount to admitting that one will be dead shortly and that one’s life, for all practical purposes, is already over. “I’m gradually dying for my kids” would be more accurate. 

But what ah our chil’ren? Lovely and fresh in their youth; blind to mortality; rolling around, Eunice Park–like, in the tall grass with their alabaster legs; fawns, sweet fawns, all of them, gleaming in their dreamy plasticity, at one with the outwardly simple nature of their world. 

And then, a brief almost- century later: drooling on some poor Mexican nursemaid in an Arizona hospice. 

Nullified. Did you know that each peaceful, natural death at age eighty- one is a tragedy without compare? Every day people, individuals— Americans, if that makes it more urgent for you—fall facedown on the battlefield, never to get up again. Never to exist again. 

These are complex personalities, their cerebral cortexes shimmering with floating worlds, universes that would have floored our sheepherding, fig- eating, analog ancestors. These folks are minor deities, vessels of love, life- givers, unsung geniuses, gods of the forge getting up at six- fifteen in the morning to fire up the coffeemaker, mouthing silent prayers that they will live to see the next day and the one after that and then Sarah’s graduation and then . . . 


But not me, dear diary. Lucky diary. Undeserving diary. From this day forward you will travel on the greatest adventure yet undertaken by a nervous, average man sixty- nine inches in height, 160 pounds in heft, with a slightly dangerous body mass index of 23.9. Why “from this day forward”? Because yesterday I met Eunice Park, and she will sustain me through forever. Take a long look at me, diary. What do you see? A slight man with a gray, sunken battleship of a face, curious wet eyes, a giant gleaming forehead on which a dozen cavemen could have painted something nice, a sickle of a nose perched atop a tiny puckered mouth, and from the back, a growing bald spot whose shape perfectly replicates the great state of Ohio, with its capital city, Columbus, marked by a deep- brown mole. Slight. Slightness is my curse in every sense. A so- so body in a world where only an incredible one will do. A body at the chronological age of thirty- nine already racked with too much LDL cholesterol, too much ACTH hormone, too much of everything that dooms the heart, sunders the liver, explodes all hope. A week ago, before Eunice gave me reason to live, you wouldn’t have noticed me, diary. A week ago, I did not exist. A week ago, at a restaurant in Turin, I approached a potential client, a classically attractive High Net Worth Individual. He looked up from his wintry bollito misto, looked right past me, looked back down at the boiled lovemaking of his seven meats and seven vegetable sauces, looked back up, looked right past me again—it is clear that for a member of upper society to even remotely notice me I must first fire a flaming arrow into a dancing moose or be kicked in the testicles by a head of state. 

And yet Lenny Abramov, your humble diarist, your small nonentity, will live forever. The technology is almost here. As the Life Lovers Outreach Coordinator (Grade G) of the Post- Human Services division of the Staatling- Wapachung Corporation, I will be the first to partake of it. I just have to be good and I have to believe in myself. I just have to stay off the trans fats and the hooch. I just have to drink plenty of green tea and alkalinized water and submit my genome to the right people. I will need to re- grow my melting liver, replace the entire circulatory system with “smart blood,” and find someplace safe and warm (but not too warm) to while away the angry seasons and the holocausts. And when the earth expires, as it surely must, I will leave it for a new earth, greener still but with fewer allergens; and in the flowering of my own intelligence some 1032 years hence, when our universe decides to fold in on itself, my personality will jump through a black hole and surf into a dimension of unthinkable wonders, where the things that sustained me on Earth 1.0—tortelli lucchese, pistachio ice cream, the early works of the Velvet Underground, smooth, tanned skin pulled over the soft Baroque architecture of twentysomething buttocks—will seem as laughable and infantile as building blocks, baby formula, a game of 

“Simon says do this.” 

That’s right: I am never going to die, caro diario. Never, never, never, never. And you can go to hell for doubting me. 

From the Hardcover edition.

Revue de presse

“Gary Shteyngart’s wonderful new novel, Super Sad True Love Story, is a supersad, superfunny, superaffecting performance — a book that not only showcases the ebullient satiric gifts…but that also uncovers his abilities to write deeply and movingly about love and loss and mortality. It’s a novel that gives us a cutting comic portrait of a futuristic America, nearly ungovernable and perched on the abyss of fiscal collapse, and at the same time it is a novel that chronicles a sweetly real love affair as it blossoms from its awkward, improbable beginnings. Mr. Shteyngart spent his earliest childhood in Leningrad, then moved with his family to the United States, and “Super Sad” reflects his dual heritage, combining the dark soulfulness of Russian literature with the antic inventiveness of postmodern American writing; the tenderness of the Chekhovian tradition with the hormonal high jinks of a Judd Apatow movie…It demonstrates a new emotional bandwidth and ratifies his emergence as one of his generation’s most original and exhilarating writers…In recounting the story of Lenny and Eunice in his antic, supercaffeinated prose, Mr. Shteyngart gives us his most powerful and heartfelt novel yet — a novel that performs the delightful feat of mashing up an apocalyptic satire with a genuine supersad true love story.”
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“Gary Shteyngart’s third novel, Super Sad True Love Story, had to be a total blast to write.
It’s an homage to science fiction, George Orwell’s 1984 in particular, with a satirical postmodern overlay of authorial wish fulfillment….The text consists of Lenny’s diary entries and Eunice’s e-mails to various friends and family. They both write with endearing, sometimes clumsy earnestness, and their intertwining narratives, for all the book’s cheeky darkness, pose a superserious question: Can love and language save the world?”
“Shteyngart makes trenchant, often hilarious, observations about a fading empire.”
O Magazine
“With Shteyngart’s nutty knack for tangy language, it’s as if Vladimir Nabokov rewrote 1984.”
“It’s not easy to summarize Shteyngart; there’s so much satirical gunpowder packed into every sentence that the effect gets lost in the short version. But basically, this is a love story [that is] ridiculously witty and painfully prescient, but more than either of those, it’s romantic.”
Time (summer preview)
“Finally, a funny book about the financial crisis.”
—Wall Street Journal
“[A] smart send-up of our info-overload age…
Love Story is funny, on-target, and ultimately sad as it captures the absurdity and anxiety of navigating an increasingly out-of-control world.”
—Entertainment Weekly
“Exuberant and devastating… such an acidly funny, prescient book… It’s a wildly funny book that hums with the sheer vibrancy of Shteyngart’s prose, and that holds up a riotous, terrifying mirror to a corrupted American empire in decline.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“The satirist author of Absurdistan rewrites 1984 as a black comedy set in a near future where everything scary about multinational banks, media super-saturation, and American cultural devolution is amped up to 11 (and really funny).”
“It’s a love story, and as super-sad as the title promises…Shteyngart is the Joseph Heller of the information age…That’s the difference between Shteyngart and the average literary satirist (or even an above-average one, like Martin Amis): his warmth…A novel that’s simultaneously so biting and so compassionate.”
“As illuminating, as gut-busting, and as purely entertaining as any piece of literature will be this year.”
“So I don’t risk burying my recommendation where an inattentive reader might miss it, let me say right upfront: Read this book – it’s great…Shteyngart’s hilarious dystopian novel, Super Sad True Love Story, is also sly and compliant, but like all great comedies, it is erected inside a scaffolding of sorrow, as the title promises…Shteyngart is a droll Kafka -- not so enigmatic, perhaps, but just as inimitable, and much, much funnier. He has a genius for composing the perfect, concise, illuminating phrase…Shteyngart, without resorting to pyrotechnics or hyperbole, insinuates his readers into an original, engaging and frightening world, at once foreign and familiar. I loved this novel.”
—Portland Oregonian
“Gary Shteyngart’s dystopian novel deserves a place on the shelf beside 1984  and Brave New World….The surprising and brilliant third novel from Russian-American satirist Shteyngart is actually two love stories… Shteyngart writes with an obvious affection for America — at its most chilling, Super Sad True Love Story comes across as a cri de coeur from an author scared for his country. The biggest risk for any dystopian novel with a political edge is that it can easily become humorless or didactic; Shteyngart deftly avoids this trap by employing his disarming and absurd sense of humor (much of which is unprintable here). Combined with the near-future setting, the effect is a novel more immediate — and thus more frightening, at least for contemporary readers — than similarly themed books by Orwell, Huxley and Atwood.”
—NPR, Books We Like
“This summer’s literary crown prince.”
—New York Observer
“Hilarious and unsettling… the man can write a stellar sentence.”
—Dallas Morning News
“Gary Shteyngart has a wicked penchant for steering his hapless characters into absurd situations, then letting real-life global forces roll over them. But his wild, exuberant wit and deadly accurate satire have made the Russian émigré one of the most acclaimed, enjoyable — and unsettling — novelists working today…His imagination is either warped or prophetic; you choose. But his writing is brilliant. Somehow, amid all this, he creates vulnerable, sympathetic characters whose foibles and blunderings toward one another we recognize as universal: super sad and true.”
—Seattle Times
“Threads of narrative and brilliant motifs accumulate with apparent effortlessness and the narrative tone remains matter-of-fact and understated. He has gained a lot of praise for his first two novels, and yes, he does remind me of Nikolai Gogol and Evelyn Waugh both at the same time…Super Sad True Love Story is about as amusing and harrowing a reflection upon the world we live in now and the direction we could be heading as you can hope to find.”
Jane Smiley, Philadelphia Inquirer
“Dystopic, mournfully funny…The classics of fiction-as-social-forecast – and the fact that Shteyngart’s is one doesn’t make it any less funny – share a crucial characteristic: depressing familiarity.”
“A slit-your-wrist satire illuminated by the author’s absurd wit…Shteyngart’s most trenchant satire depicts the inane, hyper-sexualized culture that connects everybody even while destroying any actual community or intimacy. This may be the only time I’ve wanted to stand up on the subway and read passages of a book out loud.”
—Washington Post
“A bipartisan satirist who makes us simultaneously laugh and wince at our monstrous vanities…Zaniness and tragedy are conjoined in his ambitious, uninhibited imagination. No subject is too serious to crack a joke about. But he is not being perverse or disrespectful; like all great satirists, he builds fun house mirrors that expose the distortions of contemporary reality…Shteyngart is one of the most powerful voices of his generation.”
—Miami Herald
—Santa Cruz Sentinel
“A spectacularly clever near-future dystopian satire… What gives this novel its unusual richness is that undercurrent of sorrow.”
“This moving tale in futuristic New York is a fabulously sad romance… It’s hilarious, and it’s sad - a poignant moment that gets at the heart of both the girl and the society.”
—St. Louis Post Dispatch
“These inventions are indicative of the book’s pleasure, which is simply its effluence from a mind as smart, loony and darkly prophetic as Mr Shteyngart’s. “I don’t know how to read anymore,” he said in his interview with Deborah Solomon. Thankfully his fans still do.”
—The Economist, More Intelligent Life
“His satire is appallingly funny but never less than personal, a tour de force of ridiculous appropriation and conflation.”
—Boston Globe
“An ingenious satire of America in decline: a nation obsessed with life extension and homeland security, betrayed by technology and utterly trivialized.”
—L.A. Times summer preview
“Here’s a big tip of the hat to Gary Shteyngart for having the nerve to write a novel-length staire…he’s shrewd, observant, snarkily funny.”
“You think the country’s a mess now? Just wait until you read about the unnerving near-future envisioned by the hilarious Gary Shteyngart in his satiric new novel Super Sad True Love Story, a 1984 for the cybertastic millennium….Super Sad True Love Story shows why Shteyngart was named one of New Yorker's trendy “20 Under 40” writers; he’s a genius with parody.”
—Miami Herald
“Not since mid-’70s Woody Allen has anyone cracked so wise and so well. Who but Shteyngart recognizes the twin importance of skillful oral sex and a currency pegged to the Chinese yuan? Nobody.”
“Shteyngart evokes America in a digitized post-literate age in Super Sad True Love Story, an Orwell-on-acid vision of a very near future in which life is streamed rather than lived, but romance,in all its perilous, old-fashioned wonderment, endures.”
“Pity Lenny Abramov, the sad and hilarious human being at the center of Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart's hilarious and sad new novel…[an] all-too-plausible dystopia, where privacy of any sort is a thing of the past…both frightening and devastatingly funny.”
—L.A. Times
“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.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story tries to be many things—tragicomic 1984 update, poignant May-December romance per the title, heartfelt tribute to the nostalgic joys of plain ol' books—and succeeds at most of them. But primarily, it’s the finest piece of anti-iPhone propaganda ever written, a cautionary tale full of distracted drones unwilling to tear themselves away from their little glowing screens long enough to make eye contact, let alone an actual lasting connection, with another human being. It’s super sad ‘cause it’s true, but that also makes it hilarious.”
—Village Voice
“Hilarious and unsettling.”
—Fort Worth Star Telegram
“I can’t remember the last time a book so often made me laugh out loud and scared the hell out of me - sometimes on the same page. But Gary Shteyngart’s new novel, the aptly titled Super Sad True Love Story, accomplishes an even rarer feat: It’s a slashing satire with a warm heart…Shteyngart makes it all disturbingly convincing. Both satire and speculative fiction tend to be chilly forms; he displays a mastery of them in Super Sad Love Story yet never lets the tragic, wholly human bond between its lovers seem less than real.”
—St Petersburg Times
“Shteyngart’s world, evoked in painstaking and ingenious detail, feels close enough to touch - a nightmare we've already started to live and from which we can’t seem to wake up…Shteyngart has always been able to see the humor in a half-cocked world as it slides toward madness. But true to his Russian origins and this novel's title, there is something unbearably sad about even his broadest and most savage satire.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“No surprise that it’s hilarious, but it’s also as finger-waggingly disapproving a vision of the technologically addicted, oversexed, dumbed-down world we inhabit as I’ve ever read.”
—The Forward
“The surprising and brilliant third novel from Russian-American satirist Shteyngart is actually two love stories — and while they're both, as promised, super sad, they're also incredibly (but very darkly) funny.”
—NPR “Books We Like”
“if Gary Shteyngart is any indication, fiction will continue to be the place where authors ponder the survival of most everything else that matters…These inventions are indicative of the book's pleasure, which is simply its effluence from a mind as smart, loony and darkly prophetic as Mr Shteyngart’s.
“[A] profane and dizzying satire, a dystopic vision of the future as convincing-and, in its way, as frightening as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. It’s also a pointedly old-fashioned May-December love story. . . .  a heartbreaker worthy of its title, this is Shteyngart’s best yet.” 
Publishers Weekly, starred review «
“Full-tilt and fulminating satirist Shteyngart (Absurdistan, 2006) is mordant, gleeful, and embracive as he funnels today’s follies and atrocities into a devilishly hilarious, soul-shriveling, and all-too plausible vision of a ruthless and crass digital dystopia in which techno-addled humans are still humbled by love and death.”
Booklist, starred review «
“This cyber-apocalyptic vision of an American future seems eerily like the present, in a bleak comedy that is even more frightening than funny. Though Shteyngart received rave reviews for his first two novels (The Russian Debutante’s Daughter, 2001; Absurdistan, 2006), those appear in retrospect to be trial runs for his third and darkest to date.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

From the Hardcover edition.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1201 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 353 pages
  • Editeur : Granta Books (2 septembre 2010)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B006ZMLG4Q
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°64.178 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Magnifique 12 septembre 2014
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Pour ceux qui lisent dans le texte, je conseille vivement ce roman. Mordant, grinçant, on ne le pratiquement pas, d'un bout à l'autre.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 A OK 14 octobre 2013
Par aimée m
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
The book that I ordered has arrived in time, in fact early, in perfect condition, I would order from this vendor again.
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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent 3 janvier 2013
Par ma.de
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Magnifique.. et quelle vision / anticipation d'une Amérique Titanic...
Absurdistan du meme auteur vaut le détour aussi :)
Magnifique.. et quelle vision / anticipation d'une Amérique Titanic...
Absurdistan du meme auteur vaut le détour aussi :)
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Amazon.com: 3.6 étoiles sur 5  394 commentaires
298 internautes sur 328 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Super Funny Dystopian Love Satire: A Review 6 juillet 2010
Par K. Harris - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Almost unclassifiable, "Super Sad True Love Story" is an unorthodox tale that defied every expectation I had going into it. So I may not know how to describe the novel concisely to convey its successes, but I can say that I'm in love with this "Love Story."

In a beguiling mix of humor, pathos, and intrigue--Gary Shteyngart has written a topical, disturbing, and believably prescient satire of the near future. Taking cues from his previous works "Absurdistan" and "The Russian Debutante's Handbook," protagonist Lenny Abramov is of Russian descent. From a Jewish immigrant family settled in New York, Lenny has achieved some success selling immortality to the upper echelon of the income bracket. In a technological world, success is not only measured--it is broadcast. Receivers transmit instant credit ratings, personal communication devices evaluate attractiveness quotients, and books have become a digitized (not to be read, but to be scanned for information). It is, to be sure, a world of instant gratification where to be without media is to be devoid of life itself.

When sad sack Lenny meets the beautiful, yet immeasurably damaged, Eunice Park--he falls instantly in love. Reluctantly, Eunice does begin to date Lenny. Despite their incalculable differences, the two form a relationship as much about necessity and usefulness as it is about genuine emotion. Oblivious to the political climate, where New York is systematically being co-opted into a police state, the two form an almost perfect co-dependent bond. But as the world around them starts to splinter, so too must Lenny and Eunice come to terms with whether or not their relationship can survive.

Picking up "Super Sad True Love Story," I wasn't sure what I was getting into. What I did NOT expect, however, was a novel filled with Orwellian nightmares brought so vividly to life. As many times as I chuckled at Shteyngart's vision of this dystopian future, I was also disturbed by how much our society actually seems to be moving that way. It is a stunning accomplishment as a whole. As a satire, it works. As light sci-fi, it works. As a relationship drama, it works. One of my favorite books of the year, easily, "Super Sad True Love Story" is a mesmerizing tale. Important and entertaining, I was "Super Sad" to finish this story.
271 internautes sur 302 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Best American Novel In Decades 31 mars 2011
Par Robert Miller - Publié sur Amazon.com
I suppose the mixed reader reviews are unsurprising. And if they are nevertheless disheartening, I think this novel, ahead of any written by an American in a generation or more, will find greater and greater admiration the longer it endures-and it will endure. A Modest Proposal was not well-received in London, afterall, and the perfect pitch with which Shteyngart captures this cultural moment is no likelier to warm the hearts of those living it.

What is surprising, however, and more difficult to rationalize is the tediousness of most of the criticisms in these pages. To answer a few:

1. "It's boring." Tough. This is a purely stylistic judgment. I can't argue with it, but I do take issue with the equation of "I was bored" with "this is a bad book nobody should read." "Boring" is only aesthetically relevant when it is intelligently justified, which, sadly, it hasn't been here.

2. "There's sex in it." First of all, so? It may be churlish, but my instinctive assumption is that the folks complaining of graphic sex as "juvenile" and "there to shock" have not read a lot of contemporary literary fiction. The sex is far more graphic in, and sexuality is much more the subject of, to name a few, John Updike, Philip Roth, Jonathan Franzen, Don Dellillo, Tom Wolfe, Martin Amis, Saul Bellow, Jose Saramago, Norman Mailer, Milan Kundera, Mario Vargas Lhosa, and John Coetzee. Sex permeates, and as both itself and metaphor is essential to, several of the best novels of the twentieth century (see, e.g., The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Ulysses, Blindness, Lolita, Brave New World). Now, perhaps all of these novelists and all of their novels are juvenile and vulgar, but don't toss them into the fire without Tristram Shandy, Gargantua and Pantagruel, In Search of Lost Time, etc., and indeed without Shakespeare and Solomon. Writers write about sex.

Secondly, yes, the sex is invariably desperate or gratuitous. This may or may not be the way we have sex now (it is certainly one of the ways in which we have sex now-and almost as certainly always has been-and just as certainly is not the only way), but it is the way sex is shown to us by, at least, television, film, the internet and particularly pornography. If you find it grim, even soulless, good. This appears to be what Shteyngart is worried about, and whether or not one agrees with either the assessment or the worry, he makes his point very well.

But that aside, "there's sex in it" is a hollow criticism. One might as well say "there's walking in it" or "I hate the gratuitous eating."

3. "He just extends current trends." Indeed. This is satire, not science fiction. Do not confuse the book's near-future setting with futurism-Shteyngart's imagination is working on how we live now, extrapolated more than exaggerated, not the creation of an original, plausible future. Swift, Twain, Wodehouse, et al, were all satirizing their own times, and this is, ultimately, all satire can do, even in science fiction. Douglas Adams may be at the End of the Universe, but you're kidding yourself if you don't think The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation is the modern tech company, the Cricketters are xenophobes from time immemorial, the Vogons are modern bureaucracy, the Golgafrinchans are all of us, etc. If humor is being had at the expense of a time and place that is definitively not one's own, it isn't satire but ridicule.

4. "It's liberal." Yeah, it is. Shteyngart's a liberal. It could be a weakness were it myopic or actually bigoted. It's neither. The liberalism that underpins the book spares neither liberals (of whom Lenny is one) nor liberal conventions, but if the criticism is that it is not conservative, and does not take a conservative view nor come to conservative conclusions, that's certainly true. Although I don't believe it is primarily a political novel, it is a political novel. Political novels inevitably take sides.

The question, though, is not about his politics or the reader's. As with any novel, the question can be aesthetic (is it: funny? entertaining? moving? illuminating? bottom line, is it GOOD? because good should always be good enough). The question can be literary (what does it do as a novel? how does it do it?). The question can be ideological, of course, and Super Sad certainly cuts close to forcing ideological judgments, although not ones that have much to do with Democrats and Republicans.

My opinion is that the most important question, the determinative question, is the moral one. This is, and not very far below the surface, a deeply moral book. It is at least in part a deeply moral book ABOUT morality, and so it seems fairest, if one wants to hold it accountable for being something more than merely good (which is itself an astonishing thing to ask of a whole novel), to judge it on moral terms. What one asks is not "is this because of corporations?" or "is American BAD?" or "are Americans progressively illiterate, selfish, vain and cruel?" but "if this is our way of living, or some part of our way of living, notwithstanding how or why it came to be, what does it mean? what does the novel say about it?" One needn't be liberal or conservative to find something morally troubling about Shteyngart's world, which may be why even its least forgiving critics here are much harsher to the characters than is the text itself.

5. "There are ethnic stereotypes!" Are there? Race and culture, and depictions of race and culture, are complex. On the other hand, some of what Shteyngart witnessed in his own neighborhood and his wife's roughly corresponds to what COULD, if misappropriated and misapplied, be called ethnic stereotypes of Russian Jewish and Korean immigrant communities in the New York metro. Must he dispense with anything he witnessed that has entered the national consciousness as "Jewish" or "Korean"?

I don't think so. In fact, I think there's a very dangerous assumption in much of the criticism. A "stereotype" in literature is a caricature, a grotesque, often bent toward ridicule or confirmation of an audience's prejudices. It goes without saying that I find both complex, but whatever Eunice and Lenny may be they're not caricatures, nor is their experience claimed at any juncture to represent an Ethnic Experience or a Religious Experience. It's merely their own, particular and peculiar. What it is not, and this is where the dangerous assumption is made, is a conventional, long-settled, white Protestant experience. Many of the posters who say they are seeking "real" characters rather than stereotypes seem instead to be seeking "conventional, long-settled, white Protestant" characters, for only those characters will not fall victim to the "exotica," the cultural foreignness, that they've confused with stereotype. To be clear, that doesn't mean they object to "Jewish" characters or "Korean" characters, only that "Jewish" and "Korean" characters cannot be "real" unless they behave precisely as the dominant culture would have them behave. Their own cultures must be treated as irrelevances.

6. "The writing is annoying!" It can be, but I don't think it could have told this story any other way. It certainly could not have captured what passes for communication at the moment. Lenny's prose, much closer to the author's, is often excellent if one requires evidence of ordinary facility, but Eunice Park is virtuosic. Shteyngart manages to capture the lingua franca with both outrageous parody and abundant sympathy. This is rare, and ultimately, for all the grating, a treat to read.

7. "It's not a love story!" It bloody well is. Mismatch is encoded in the genome of the love story. There are a handful of great love stories in all of literature in which it's not switched on, but it mostly is because, to quote another novelist of miserable people making miserable matches in miserable times, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." It may not be the best, the most touching, and it is not (nor intended to be) the best, hottest engine in the novel, but the love story of Lenny and Eunice is authentic, moving and, when situated in the wider narrative, desperately, desperately sad.

At any rate, I don't think the title refers to poor Lenny and Eunice, bringing us to

8. "It has nothing good to say about America!" To the contrary. The novel aches with despair precisely because its author seems to love the country and its people so very much.

I urge anyone who takes that view to carefully reread the last four pages.

9. "It's not uplifting!" or "It's too uplifting!" If nothing else, one must have sympathy for the poor novelist, already hard set to the grind of sentences and paragraphs, when the same book is called dreadful by some because it's sentimental and pulls its punches, others because it's terribly bleak and empty and one happy critic because it's not nihilistic. I think the problem is exacerbated here by the fixation on the word "satire." Super Sad is satirical, is "satire," but that's not all it is and far from all it aspires (mostly successfully) to be. I find it very funny, but it certainly isn't slapstick, meant to be a happy-go-lucky tale of an America down on its luck yet still plucky and full'o'good folk. At the same time, it isn't a laundry list of the Ills of Modern Civilization, nor a broad, surly attack on the United States and all it ever has been or ever will be. It chooses its punchlines carefully, has few true targets and even in them sees weakness rather than evil (one poster asks where the Tea Party is-shot through almost every page), and is, most of all and most wisely, almost entirely devoid of rancor.

Super Sad is, as all great novels, many things (satire, romance, pyrotechnics display, character study, tale of the city), but above all it is a tragedy. The comparison to Twain is inapt. If one has to be made, it should be to Fitzgerald.

Oh, and

10. "None of the characters are likable!" This isn't the purpose of fiction. Grow up.

And regardless, expand your sympathies. Lenny is a coward, Eunice is a child, both, and all their cohorts, are little in a world the big and the little have together made a moral hash. They aren't heroic because few people are, they reflect the chaos, callousness and vanity of their time because most people do, and they change without necessarily becoming better because perfectly upward trajectories belong to kitsch.
80 internautes sur 88 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Greater Than You Think 14 septembre 2010
Par gtra1n - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
This novel is not quite what is advertised, or what it appears to be, and that's all for the good. Yes, it is funny, yes, it is satirical, yes, there is a love story. There is so much more to it than that.

Shteyngart has produced one of the most important novels of this generation. In the guise of the funny, satirical, sad love story, he's written a subtle, sublime, compacted human and social tragedy. The satire is in how he has extrapolated present features of society and pushed them a little farther down the road, a little close together. He takes Social Networking to the point where people are defined by the public data and quantified in the most material and shallow ways. All this is then put on display, in real time, as a means of interacting in public. He's taken the move to on-line readership to make reading books into a kind of social deviancy (it takes time away from the all-important Social Networking after all, the only way for anyone to know their place in society). He's taken the fetish amongst the political media for bipartisanship into the realm of the Bipartisan party which governs a bankrupt and collapsed America, where the current militarization and worship of the uniform in society has become the ultimate neo-conservative authoritarian occupation of the country, under the aegis of the American Restoration Authority; Baghdad simply transplanted to New York City, with an arrogant, bumbling and very Rumsfeldian cabinet secretary the real power running the government and sending National Guardsmen off to a military adventure in Venezuela, paid for by the Chinese, natch.

Lenny and Eunice's relationship is not like that of Winston and Julia in 1984. Lenny and Eunice are real people, and beautifully drawn by Shteyngart. We know about them through what they tell us about themselves, and what they tell us about each other. At first Lenny is wholly sympathetic and Eunice wholly unsympathetic, but they are gradually revealed as real characters with important redemptive qualities as well as crippling flaws. Shteyngart is a humanist who has sympathy for his people, living in times where the future is something one must try and stave off by the most material means. This skill in giving different people their own voices and revealing them through those voices is superb, as is his eviscerating humor, which takes the form of names and labels for products, entities, businesses and social ideas. His language does it all, there's no need to push anything and pile on. The satire is woven into the fabric of the novel, not the book's main point, and becomes almost incidental to the deeply tragic world that Shteyngart creates, one where, although the author is clearly full of despair over it, hope is not only a possibility but something that can be made almost from scratch. A seemingly straightforward and modest book that is one of the most deeply ambitious, and successful, works of fiction in American literature.
19 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Wanted It to Be Better 17 décembre 2010
Par Bartolo - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Few of the reviews here refer to Shteyngart's other novels, and perhaps that's telling. The resemblances between "Absurdistan" and this satire--the unattractive protragonist and his love interest in the foreground, dystopic corporate empire in the background--are too obvious to miss, and therein perhaps the shortcomings here. When a novel is less than wonderful, even an amateur wants to play doctor, and perhaps the problem I can identify is that Shteyngart's favored scenario became a little too formulaic on the second go-round. Or perhaps I was charmed the first time, a little less disarmed the second, or had unconsciously raised my expectations. Or perhaps it's the times? 2010 seems decades beyond 2006; we are in the midst of a world-wide recession and beset with a bought-and-paid-for government that obsesses on serving the rich. It's hard to laugh, or to be induced to laugh, at anything that isn't totally off the wall.

The dystopia of "Super Sad" is hardly much of a leap from where we are now. I scoured reviews of the book, looking for someone who could nail the problem for me, and came upon this paragraph from Ron Charles of the Washington Post:

"Perhaps the saddest aspect of this "Super Sad True Love Story" is that you can smell Shteyngart sweating to stay one step ahead of the decaying world he's trying to satirize. It's an almost impossible race now that the exhibitionism of ordinary people has lost its ability to shock us. Just try coming up with something creepier than middle school girls wearing shorts with the word "Juicy" across their bottoms, or imagine a fashion line cruder than FCUK (Shteyngart comes close). His description of friends getting together after work to text other friends is taking place today in every D.C. restaurant. And how can you parody the TV news coverage when George Stephanopoulos has already presented a straight-faced report on Lindsay Lohan's obscene fingernail stencil?"

Another personal diagnosis is that the novel suffers from overambition. Shteyngart's satiric world clatters and clanks with inventions that constantly make us exporers of a world we should inhabit along with his characters, but he never quite succeeds in creating an environment for them--we remain tourists while he necessarily feels obliged to describe the sights. To get us to inhabit the landscape, to make it real to us, perhaps the novel should have been twice as long; but if that is what was necessary, so be it. A mere sketch of an alien landscape, even one not much more than an exaggeration of our own, is frustrating: I wanted to feel the ambience, be haunted. But it wasn't real, even granting the fact that I live in New York and am familiar with the book's described geography.

Moreover, the mix of humor and disaster didn't work for me. Lenny's friends are murdered, the disenfranchised get machine-gunned or clubbed on the head, and yet we are supposed to laugh in the next scene. A tall order, one I don't think Shteyngart pulls off. With a consistency of satiric tone--if the deaths themselves had been outlandish?-- it might have worked, but I didn't find that consistency.

It could be that Steyngart's clown face is forced and stems from undermediated psychic needs. Lenny's "diary" entries in the novel have a literary power that the rest of the novel lacks, perhaps because Lenny, the source of the humor, is himself quite serious. Maybe this is a Shteyngart voice that will find a satisfying outlet later.

On balance this was an interesting book, and worth the time; but I finished it thinking it might have been (choose one) more powerful, more devastating an indictment, or more moving, or certainly funnier. But as a tossed salad, at least this time, the flavors competed rather than complemented.
77 internautes sur 96 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Love and nausea 19 novembre 2010
Par Crazyleo - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I entered this book with high hopes after having heard Mr. Shteyengart on several interviews in the Summer of 2010. The observations he made in those interviews regarding media and technology were intriguing and astute so I bought the book (ironically, i think, on my Kindle).

This was my first Shteyengart novel and it was something of a let down. It is true to its title in that it is, in fact, super sad. He does a fine job of painting characters that are frantic, self-absorbed, and disturbingly familiar. He does such a fine job of developing these traits that I found myself wanting to reach into the pages and slap the characters around. As this is physicaly impossible, my only other option was to put the book down before the nausea overcame me. As such, it took me quite a while to get through this story. I did, however, press on into the last quarter of the book where the plot takes some of its more engaging turns and was able to finish with at least some strands of affection for the novel's protagonist, Lenny.

Is Mr. Shteyengart a gifted and effective writter? Without a doubt.
Am I going to be the first in line to get his book? Well, as he seems to favor aiming his microscope at the sickening rather than the appetizing traits of mankind, and as i prefer to not be sickend, I will likely pass.
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