Saturday, March 12, 2011

Absurdistan


I just finished reading Gary Shteyngart's Absurdistan. The book will stay with me for a long time, its truth and American English lyricism.

The New York Times Review of Books was thrilled and emphatic about the book

Why praise it first? Just quote from it — at random. Just unbutton its shirt and let it bare its chest. Like a victorious wrestler, this novel is so immodestly vigorous, so burstingly sure of its barbaric excellence, that simply by breathing, sweating and standing upright it exalts itself.


And so:

As depressed and immobile as a twenty-first-century Oblomov, I lay on my bed scrolling through the darkest corners of the Internet, the laptop whizzing and bleating atop the mound of my stomach. I watched all kinds of unfortunate women being degraded and humiliated, tied up, spat upon, forced to swallow gigantic penises, and I wished I could wipe off their dripping faces, whisk them away to some Minneapolis or Toronto, and teach them to take pleasure in a simple linear life far from their big-dicked tormentors.


It's intense and beautiful. I'm sorry, I mean horrible. Or more as Shteyngart writes:

A look of such transcendent disbelief came over Timofey that I could only feel grief for him. And grief for me, too. There was enough grief on the plane for both of us. Good grief, as the Americans say.

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