aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Gary Shteyngart wrote Super Sad True Love Story, but is Supper Funny in person

Gary Shteyngart third novel, Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel, is a black comedy set in a futuristic America. A future that is drawing ever nearer -- where books don't exist, the economy has collapsed, and the only two televisions stations are Fox Liberty-Prime and Fox Liberty-Ultra. I'm not sure I've ever seen another book get stars across the board - Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly.

I was lucky enough to see Gary at Powells on Wednesday. And even though I came 15 minutes early, it was already a standing room only crowd. He waited for his entrance right in front of me, so I got to hear the unconscious noises one makes when one is being talked about to a crowd.

His reading was incredibly funny, complete with gestures and accents. The question and answer period was even better - he so sharp that sometimes you didn't even realize he was joking. Like one guy said he had just been reading The Shallows, which talks about what the Internet is doing to our brains and our attention spans. As the man was still asking his question, Gary started a bit, pulled out his iPhone and began to say, "Uh huh, uh huh," as he tapped away on the tiny screen. We're so used to this kind of half-assed attention that it took a few seconds for everyone to begin laughing.

The line for getting a signed copy was long. Two people ahead of me, the guy had several books, with weird instructions for each: "Write something random in Russian, but don't tell me what it says." "In this one, draw a stick figure." Gary gamely complied. The guy ahead of me brought a Kindle and a special pen so Gary could sign the back. There was some debate as to how large he should make the signature (since it was the first of presumably many) and then some fumbling as Gary tried to take a picture with his iPhone while simultaneously signing.

Read and hear more about the author and the book here - including an interview with NPR's Terry Gross.

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