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Books Suck

[Editor's Note: Don't miss Gary Shteyngart's reading at Powell's City of Books on Burnside on Wednesday, August 4th, at 7:30 pm. Click here for details.]

Like most writers, I'm very shy about publicity. I just want to stay home like a little marmot and write my novels in peace.I just want to stay home like a little marmot and write my novels in peace. But you can't do that no more! Nobody likes to read books. The consensus is: books suck. You practically have to grab people by the ankles in broad daylight screaming, "Please just read my freaking book! I beg of you! My children need drugs! Puh-leeze!"

So one day I woke up and thought, OK, I have to do a book trailer. I called up my intern, who was at the time sleeping with a certain ex-vice president of the United States (I am so not divulging this V.P.'s name). So I says to her, "Sharyn, get out from under Mr. Gore and get me James Franco, Jeffrey Eugenides, Mary Gaitskill, Jay McInerney, and Edmund White. We're making a funny book trailer together!" She called them up and they all said, "Totes. Anything for the Gar-bear," and the next day we assembled our cast. Then I realized that what you need to make a trailer are "video cameras" and a "director." So I called my old friend and schoolmate, the brilliant director Doug Choi. "Doug," I said, "we're socialist Oberlin brothers together, can you make this trailer for free?" He then said certain things directed at my person that I just, well, I can't go back to that dark place again. Ever. Anyway, a few weeks later, after I wired Doug a crapload of money, we had a trailer.

Then my publicist was like, "You have to start facebookering right away. If you don't facebooker hard every day, you might as well not exist." So Sharyn, my intern, went on the intertubes and started a page for me — "Gary Shteyngart Public Figure" or something like that. To date, I have 364 fan-friends! I'm told that's the biggest number of fans that ever existed on the facebooker at once, and that if any more join, the intertube might break down. That would be a horrendous loss for humanity, I suppose, but it would get me some much-needed publicity. So please join my facebooker page slowly and one at a time. Or our entire digital civilization might collapse and we'll have to go back to reading books. Gross.

÷ ÷ ÷

Gary Shteyngart was born in Leningrad in 1972 and came to the United States seven years later. His debut novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook, won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His second novel, Absurdistan, was named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review, as well as a best book of the year by Time, the Washington Post Book World, the San Francisco Chronicle, and many other publications. He has been selected as one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists. He lives in New York City.

Like Gary on Facebook

Books mentioned in this post

  1. The Russian Debutante's Handbook
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  2. Absurdistan Used Trade Paper $6.95
  3. Super Sad True Love Story
    Used Hardcover $9.50

Gary Shteyngart is the author of Super Sad True Love Story

5 Responses to "Books Suck"

    Miss Gretchen July 26th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I promised myself I wouldn't laugh at your blog posts this week. It's too hot on the East Coast and life is too hard for so many friends. Curse you for making me giggle Mr. ShteynsomethingIcan'tpronounce! (just kidding about that part, my Polish side has some real tongue-twisters.) I had laughed already at your trailer from another site so you won't get two laughs out of me today.

    Please, may I use the term "facebookering" with impunity? Grazie. And may I suggest you change your name to Lady GarGar? You could get 5 million fanfriends. (Not that they would read your book! I heard books suck. It was on my Tweetertube.)

    I didn't buy your book yet but I will.

    Denise July 26th, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Mr Shteyngart - Your trailer is very YouTubitarian and I find that extremely appealing. Had NO idea the work involved with book promotion. Who knew?
    It is working though, I bought it even though I felt dragging your kids into this was hitting below the belt. =)

    Jill July 28th, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    What's a marmot? Is it a Russian woodland creature?

    Madelyne July 30th, 2010 at 6:32 am

    Ok I was laughing while reading the post and thought let's watch this video to see what it is all about. I'm surprised one of my co-workers didn't come into my office to make sure I was ok. I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. I think I'll be picking up a copy of the book and I can forgive you for saying Books Suck. :)

    thorn July 30th, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    books do totally suck. totally.

    and i want miss gretchen to be my very best friend. i think this will be unrequited, though. super sad. but true.

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