by Gary Shteyngart, August 31, 2018 9:37 AM
Photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe
Describe your latest work.
is the story of Barry Cohen, a hedge fund guy whose fund is being investigated by the SEC, and who flees his failing marriage, autistic son, and imploding career on a Greyhound bus, searching for his college sweetheart across America. Meanwhile, the year is 2016, so some, um, interesting things are about to happen electorally.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I grew up in Leningrad and I loved the Russian-language Tom Sawyer
with an introduction by one of Stalin’s henchmen: “Tom Sawyer very bad boy, he want to control means of production.”
When did you know you were a writer?
When I was five I wrote my first novel, Lenin and His Magical Goose
. My grandma paid me in cheese for it...
by Gary Shteyngart, July 30, 2010 9:56 AM
OMFG, I can't believe my week of Powell's blogging has come to an end. What will I do with myself now? My English is limited. I have few human friends. My BFF the dachshund is out on a play date. Sharyn, my high-flying intern, won't speak to me. She's sore because she thinks I've brazenly revealed her affair with the former U.S. Vice President Gore on the dates of 7/23/2009, 8/11/2009, and the month of June 2010 and most of the first week of July 2010 in room 720 of the Heathman Hotel, Portland, OR, 97205. But have I really revealed anything? I guess if you read between the lines...
Things with the book are going well. Yesterday I went to read at the Book Revue in Huntington, Long Island. My friend Ezra drove me in an "auto-mobile" along a very wide highway leading out of the city (good for you, knowing how to drive, Ezra!). It was wonderful! A sweet crowd of people materialized and asked some pretty good questions, including "What's your favorite historical period?" That one totally stumped me. Maybe "Early Stalin" before things got really out of hand? Anyway, I've been too busy buying new clothes for my August 4th reading at Powell's in Portland to think about the past. I've asked my fashion coordinator for the latest in PNPPMW (Pacific Northwestern Post-Post-Modern Wear), so I might just be wearing a tuft of seal and some strategically placed slivers of Pabst. From me, Sharyn, and my bestest friend, the darling longhaired dachshund Felix, I hope to see you soon!!!!
by Gary Shteyngart, July 29, 2010 9:34 AM
I'm slightly less hungover today! The second day of publication went swimmingly. I got up, passed out, got up again, read from the Holy Bible, cried a little (Leviticus is like so sad), took a power nap, and then went to read to another nice crowd of people in New York's Bryant Park. My readers are the best! They brought me a collage of pictures from eight years of past readings, which effectively documented my physical decline. Man, was I hairy back in 2002. Why didn't someone shave me?
More problems with Sharyn, my intern. The former vice president won't return her calls and she's taking it out on me. Also, her Bravo special fell through, and now she's all into this "Lady Gar-Gar" thing, she wants me to wear these stylized bras and a pink diving suit to readings. I don't know. Maybe in Portland.
Oh, I found a cause to believe in! Global warming. I know, I know, people have been all over that thing for years like Mr. Gore on Sharyn, but as some of you may know my best friend is a longhaired dachshund. Felix is his name; he's the sweetest thing ever (he starred in my trailer opposite Jeffrey Eugenides) and every time I see him in the 110-degree New York weather, just slowly sweating away to nothing, well... it makes me want to cry big fat biblical tears all over his soft fur. People, let's cut down on carbon emissions! I for one am going to power down this powerbook and go right back to sleep next to Felix. Until tomorrow, my friends. Zzzzz....
by Gary Shteyngart, July 28, 2010 10:01 AM
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
by Gary Shteyngart, July 27, 2010 11:08 AM
Okay, admittedly things are good. One day left until the book officially comes out and already a whole bunch of amazing reviews, including a heartbreakingly wonderful one from the New York Times
. But my Al Gore-humping intern Sharyn is still not convinced we're doing well. "You're not facebookering enough, Igor," she tells me, knowing that my Russian name will reduce me to a state of blubbering infancy. "Thirty-six minutes you haven't facebookered. You're invisible! Go jump in a cool Pacific Northwestern lake! And drown!"
"But what about the nice reviews?"
"Nobody cares! The only article worth a damn is the Daily Beast's Lindsay Lohan's Jailhouse Reading List where a librarian tells Lindsay to cuddle up with your new book. What you need, farfelleh, is a platform, for realsies. I am so gonna get you on T.V."
Off we went to a production company in Chelsea where I spent my morning auditioning for a new Bravo show. I play a novelist who doesn't sell any book because nobody reads anymore. So to make money I'm saddled up by a bunch of Bravo execs who ride me around like a horsey through Central Park. I have to wear the English Oxford Dictionary around my neck on a heavy chain. It's called "Flavor of Shteyn" for some reason. Mel Gibson is attached to direct. Maybe my life really is turning a
by Gary Shteyngart, July 26, 2010 10:00 AM
[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. 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.