Super Sad True Love Story

5 Apr

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, 2010

When you walk into work, a board flashes your mental state to all your peers: “meek but cooperative”. You wear an apparat, a smartphone-like device on social media-overload that broadcasts your ‘HOTNESS’ and ‘F*CKABILITY’ ratings to everyone who owns an apparat (ie, everyone in the country). When shopping, credit poles scan your apparat to broadcast your credit rating to shop owners. Girls wear Onionskin jeans, which, given their name, are pretty much exactly what you’d imagine them to be.

This is the world Gary Shteyngart has created in Super Sad True Love Story – and if you haven’t got my point yet, it’s one crazy dystopian place. Set in the sometime-near-future in the US, when the dollar is pegged to the yuan as the government struggles to repay its international debt, it’s actually not so weird that you can’t imagine any of it happening. Which is really pretty alarming.

But, as the title implies, there’s more to this book than just a social media/possession-loving country in political crisis. It’s also about love. LOVE!

The plot follows Lenny Abramov and the object of his affection, Eunice Park. Lenny is a balding, overweight, somewhat-clueless guy; Eunice is a Korean-American 15 years his junior who scores 780/800 on the HOTNESS scale. Lenny’s hotness is 120/800. Ouch.

The chapters alternate between Lenny’s old-fashioned diary entries (he’s one of the few who still uses a pen and paper) and Eunice’s slang- and profanity-ridden apparat exchanges with her immigrant family and friends. Through their eyes, we learn how they got into this relationship in the first place, and what’s keeping them together as New York crumbles into a police state around them.

As a romance, Super Sad True Love Story is a solid story about lonely people making a connection. As a sci-fi depiction of what may lie ahead in our tech-obsessed world, it’s a damn good tale. In fact, I really love this book – I finished it months ago and still think about it at least twice a week (well, for one, the mental image of Onionskin jeans is pretty hard to get out of your head). I haven’t done it justice here – it’s hard to describe such an amazing story without messing it all up for you. Just read the damn thing, will you?

Read it when you want to read about love in this crazy world… or about a crazy world that still happens to have love in it.

[BONUS: For a ‘trailer’ about this book, featuring James Franco and some actual authors – and a dachshund! – check this out. Hint: it’s satirical.]


8 Responses to “Super Sad True Love Story”

  1. Emma @ SheGoes April 6, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    This book sounds so bleak. Did it leave you feeling miserable?

    • literatechicken April 7, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

      Not at all! It actually ends on a hopeful note… I mean, sure, society may have fallen apart, but there’s some good stuff in there too. And the love story isn’t as super sad as the title would have you believe 🙂

  2. aims April 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    can i borrow this? 🙂

  3. M.J. Hearle April 8, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    Great review Mel!
    It sounds like an awesome book. I’ll have to check it out.
    (I worry about the durability of onionskin jeans)


  1. XVI « - April 13, 2011

    […] In case you didn’t know, there’s a bit of a dystopian trend happening in the literary world at the moment – well, in the young adult literary world anyway (if you don’t believe me, you can read all about it in a NY Times debate). And that’s the excuse I’m using for reviewing two books in a row that depict a very bleak future for our world (the last being Super Sad True Love Story). […]

  2. Books to Read: Super Sad True Love Story - June 15, 2011

    […] The Literate Chicken “Gary Shteyngart’s dystopian novel deserves a place on the shelf beside 1984 and Brave New […]

  3. Ist die Vision von ‘Google Wallet’ nicht auch beängstigend? | mobile zeitgeist - September 28, 2011

    […] anderes Gefühl stellt sich ein, wenn man den Zukunftsroman “Super Sad True Love Story” von Gary Shteyngart liest, in dem jedes Detail des Privatlebens auf einem iPhone ähnlichen […]

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