Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart is a book I don’t think I would have gotten through if I hadn’t been listening to it as an audiobook. I’ve never actually looked at a copy, but the novel unfolds through series of text messages, journal entries, and other odd formats that must have been a hassle to format on the page.
It’s a dystopian semi-satire of the near future. The world is hyper-sexualized, immortality just might be for sale, and causing a scene while traveling from country to country can have nasty implications for anyone who says the wrong thing within earshot of the authorities.
I say semi-satire because there aren’t really any cloaking metaphors in play here. No logical horses or Brobdingnagians to wink and nod at the human condition. Everything in Love Story is taken to extremes, but there’s not much subtext. Things in the future have just gotten really nasty and most of it is presented at face value.
The plot is essentially that of a May December Romance. An older man, Lenny, falls in love with a younger woman, Eunice. Neither is particularly likable and things don’t go too well for them. Lenny worries about, well, just about everything that can possibly be worried about. Eunice is just as insecure, but for different reasons.
I’m not going to say much more about the plot because I’d just start complaining. I didn’t love it.
What I did love was the audio performance: one of the best I’ve ever heard. There are lines in this book that I think I’d have skipped over in the book without recognizing how funny they are, that were absolutely hysterical to hear out loud.
It’s a wonderful performance by Ali Ahn and Adam Grupper. If you enjoy a good audiobook, I’d give this one a try if you’re not put off by the language and explicit subject matter.
Shteyngart is a very good writer. I’ll definitely be checking out his other work.