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Emily St. John Mandel: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Emily St. John Mandel



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    Station Eleven

    Emily St. John Mandel 9780385353304

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Super Sad True Love Story

by

Super Sad True Love Story Cover

 

 

Excerpt

DO NOT GO GENTLE

FROM THE DIARIES OF LENNY ABRAMOV

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 . . . 

Nullified. 

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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 15 comments:

lukas, October 23, 2013 (view all comments by lukas)
Not only is it not super sad, it's not even mildly sad. Or true. Maybe "Super Sucky Untrue Love Story" wasn't catchy enough. Set in a not too distant future (or is it really now?!), Shteyngart's obnoxious, self-conscious novel is part sci-fi, part satire, part twee romance. The love story part smacks a tiny bit of male fantasy, as the guy is older, neurotic and balding, while the woman is younger, cooler, hotter and more Asian. As a satire, it's neither funny nor astute, offering little more commentary than, hey, we love our technology. I will say the last few pages are pretty good, but, otherwise, this is pretty sucky.
PS-This has the most off-putting title since "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius."
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Malinda, August 7, 2012 (view all comments by Malinda)
This book is very compelling, but very depressing at the same time! While I was engrossed with the characters and story, I was also very sad about the future of the U.S. because I believe we're headed in this kind of a direction! Shteyngart's book is an important read and a funny read, but it's not a feel-good book.
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Lea Anna, February 1, 2012 (view all comments by Lea Anna)
An interesting read. Shteyngart's take on the future seems almost too close to home.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780812977868
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Shteyngart, Gary
Publisher:
Random House Trade Paperbacks
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
fiction;dystopia;satire;science fiction;new york;future;novel;new york city;romance;technology;humor;dystopian;literature;love;consumerism;america;usa;immigrants;american;death;family;21st century;speculative fiction;social media;near future;us;capitalism
Subject:
fiction;dystopia;satire;science fiction;new york;future;novel;new york city;romance;technology;humor;dystopian;literature;love;consumerism;america;usa;immigrants;american;death;family;21st century;speculative fiction;social media;near future;us;capitalism
Subject:
fiction;dystopia;satire;science fiction;new york;future;novel;new york city;romance;technology;humor;dystopian;literature;love;consumerism;america;usa;immigrants;american;death;family;21st century;speculative fiction;social media;near future;us;capitalism
Subject:
fiction;dystopia;satire;science fiction;new york;future;novel;new york city;romance;technology;humor;dystopian;literature;love;consumerism;america;usa;immigrants;american;death;family;21st century;speculative fiction;social media;near future;us;capitalism
Subject:
fiction;dystopia;satire;science fiction;new york;future;novel;new york city;romance;technology;humor;dystopian;literature;love;consumerism;america;usa;immigrants;american;death;family;21st century;speculative fiction;social media;near future;us;capitalism
Subject:
fiction;dystopia;satire;science fiction;new york;future;novel;new york city;romance;technology;humor;dystopian;literature;love;consumerism;america;usa;immigrants;american;death;family;21st century;speculative fiction;social media;near future;us;capitalism
Subject:
fiction;dystopia;satire;science fiction;new york;future;novel;new york city;romance;technology;humor;dystopian;literature;love;consumerism;america;usa;immigrants;american;death;family;21st century;speculative fiction;social media;near future;us;capitalism
Subject:
fiction;dystopia;satire;science fiction;new york;future;novel;new york city;romance;technology;humor;dystopian;literature;love;consumerism;america;usa;immigrants;american;death;family;21st century;speculative fiction;social media;near future;us;capitalism
Subject:
fiction;dystopia;satire;science fiction;new york;future;novel;new york city;romance;technology;humor;dystopian;literature;love;consumerism;america;usa;immigrants;american;death;family;21st century;speculative fiction;social media;near future;us;capitalism
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20110503
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8 x 5.2 x 0.7 in 0.5938 lb

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Super Sad True Love Story Used Trade Paper
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$16.00 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Random House Trade Paperbacks - English 9780812977868 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

This dark, smart satire appears at a perfect, uncertain moment for our culture. Will books still exist as we know them? And how will love fare in an electronic world? Shteyngart enables us to laugh our fears away — at least, for the duration of this wonderful novel.

"Review A Day" by , "An early entry in the diary of inept life-extension salesman Lenny Abramov notes that he has always regarded his parents' native tongue, Russian, 'as the language of cunning acquiescence.' Gary 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." (Read the entire Oregonian review)
"Review A Day" by , "Make no mistake. Super Sad True Love Story boasts two tormented but appealing protagonists locked in a deliciously tortuous love affair. It is indeed super sad, though thankfully untrue and difficult to imagine as prescient, while proving by turns incisive and hilariously exaggerated in its skewering of American society's excesses." (Read the entire Millions review)
"Review A Day" by , "Super Sad True Love Story isn't an entirely disingenuous title. By the time the ending rolls around, the two main characters have experienced the epic highs and ghastly lows expected in any realistic relationship. But Gary Shteyngart is at heart a humorist, and his adept, ironic tone lends the reader a certain comic distance from the emotional outpourings of Lenny Abramov and Eunice Park." (Read the entire Powells.com review)
"Review" by , "This is one of the funniest and most frightening books I've ever read. It pictures a New York dystopia that is scary because it's already happening. I never really believed in the horrors of 1984, but the details of Super Sad True Love Story are all too convincing. Gary Shteyngart is our greatest satirist, but he also knows how to write about love and vulnerability in a way to make the angels (and ordinary mortals) weep."
"Review" by , "The sweet but hapless Lenny Abramov and the beautiful Eunice Park are the Romeo and Juliet of our wobbly age. Super Sad True Love Story is a terrifying and heartbreaking, yet exhilarating and hilarious vision of where our post-literate, post-solvent civilization is headed."
"Review" by , "If there is any serious reader out there who has not yet made the acquaintance of the seriously absurd universe of Gary Shteyngart then she would be well advised to get on it. With roots deep in the heart of Russian literature, Shteyngart has become an indispensable and important American writer. Super Sad True Love Story shows him at his soulful, smart and hilarious best."
"Review" by , "Super Sad True Love Story is an intoxicating brew of keen-edged satire, social prophecy, linguistic exuberance, and emotional wallop. The American novel is safe in Gary Shteyngart's gifted hands."
"Review" by , "Gary Shteyngart has written an ingenious satire with enough reality to be truly frightening, super funny and super sad."
"Synopsis" by , In the near future, America is crushed by a financial crisis and our patient Chinese creditors may just be ready to foreclose on the whole mess. Then Lenny Abramov, son of an Russian immigrant janitor and ardent fan of “printed, bound media artifacts” (aka books), meets Eunice Park, an impossibly cute Korean American woman with a major in Images and a minor in Assertiveness. Could falling in love redeem a planet falling apart?
"Synopsis" by , A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

 

SELECTED ONE OF 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY

MICHIKO KAKUTANI, THE NEW YORK TIMES

 

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY

The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • San Francisco Chronicle • The Seattle Times • O: The Oprah Magazine • Maureen Corrigan, NPR • Salon • Slate • Minneapolis Star Tribune • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Kansas City Star • Charlotte Observer • The Globe and Mail • Vancouver Sun • Montreal Gazette • Kirkus Reviews

In the near future, America is crushed by a financial crisis and our patient Chinese creditors may just be ready to foreclose on the whole mess. Then Lenny Abramov, son of an Russian immigrant janitor and ardent fan of “printed, bound media artifacts” (aka books), meets Eunice Park, an impossibly cute Korean American woman with a major in Images and a minor in Assertiveness. Could falling in love redeem a planet falling apart?

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