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Mail Alka-Seltzer c/o Random House

Okay, let’s face it: I am too hungover to write anything brilliant today. My head is spinning, my stomach is making SOS noises of gastric distress, the ceramic god is calling. And yet I'm so happy! Yesterday was the publication date for Super Sad True something or other, and although this is my third book and I've been through the drill before, there's nothing like walking into a beautiful New York store like the Strand, or McNally Jackson, or Three Lives, or the St. Mark's Bookshop and seeing your copies gloriously stacked one on top of the other. I keep saying literature is dead, but the swarms of super-smart, super-funny, super-good-looking people who came to the first reading nearly made me cry. "Y'all want to hear youse some literature?" I called out and they responded "Hells, yeah, Lady Gar-Gar!"

Then Sharyn, my intern, interrupted my reading midway to make sure I took an iTelephone picture of the assembled crowd for publicity purposes.

"Don’t read to the people who look like they’re not going to buy the book," she whispered, "like that guy in the porkpie hat. Read away from him. Read directly to that woman over there with the Balenciaga bag."

But in the end I just read to everyone. And then adjourned to a little party thrown for me where I celebrated my publication with 2.4 liters of vodka on an empty stomach. Foolish? Perhaps. But as I crawl toward the ceramic bowl, still typing away madly on my laptop, I remember how glorious it is to write text. And how honored I am that so many people read it.

÷ ÷ ÷

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.

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Books mentioned in this post

  1. The Russian Debutante's Handbook
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  2. Absurdistan Used Trade Paper $5.95
  3. Super Sad True Love Story
    Used Hardcover $9.95

Gary Shteyngart is the author of Super Sad True Love Story

One Response to "Mail Alka-Seltzer c/o Random House"

    Miss Gretchen July 28th, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Big crowd! I wish I could be at Powell's on the 4th.

    Zeitgeist alert! Here is James Scarborough on a new LA exhibit, "Prelude to an Apocalypse: Landscape in an Era of Diminished Expectations," at Pedersen Projects:
    "Instead of distilling dystopian despair into their work, Lisa Adams, Amir H. Fallah, Wendell Gladstone, and Greg Rose incorporate responses to contemporary landscape that range from a big, fat whatever! to Peggy Lee's croonable "If that's all there is, then let's keep dancing, bring out the balloons and have a ball." With keen insight and incisive humor, these responses describe our tendency to fear for the worst, while, at the same time, fertilize the landscape tradition with pragmatic reality checks, thus proving, that if art isn't necessarily an oracle, it's still a two-way mirror on the human condition."

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