Coming This Summer

Gary Shteyngart was born in Russia and — wait, you know all about Shteyngart. (You've made a mistake somewhere if you don't, but you've harmed no one except yourself, and the mistake is easy to rectify at your local bookseller.) His new book, Super Sad True Love Story, is as funny and good as people thought it would be when they finished his last one, Absurdistan, and the one before that, The Russian Debutante's Handbook. What's really interesting, however, is his video trailer for the new book. Really. Instead of going with the hallmarks of the form and making it pathetic — shaming himself, his fans, and really anyone who happens to be ambling past a computer when the sad little thing is feebly streaming along — Shteyngart made his video trailer funny, bizarre, and good. It's like Spike Jonze got a hold of him when they were standing before urinals at a hotspot. The premise is, Shteyngart can't read. He's a halfwit. That's why he's so good. He's holds up Edmund White's copy of an Oscar Wilde book and says, "Famous homo! Famous homo!" to White. In Shteyngart's writing class at Columbia, James Franco turns to the camera and says, "I actually haven't read his book, Sad … True … Whatever. But I don't think he actually wants me to read it. I don't think reading is really his thing." Shteyngart says to Mary Gaitskill, "Women can be writers, too, haanh?" And then to Jeffrey Eugenides, "Guy from Star Trek writes stories?" (They're discussing Chekhov.) Finally, Jay McInerney wanders in holding a bottle of wine aloft (because he's a wine columnist — hah) and makes off with some Mount Holyoke debutantes. Eugenides has one of the last, best lines: "Gary has managed to escape the anxiety of influence by the sheer fact that he has never read a word."
Sat., Aug. 7, 7 p.m., 2010

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