Last night I went to see Gary Shteyngart read at Magers & Quinn. It was surprisingly delightful. Surprising, because in the past I have not been so kind to Shteyngart’s writing (see here or here) and I’ve been really skeptical about my crush on his latest novel Super Sad True Love Story.
But after seeing Shteyngart read last night, I like the book even more. Hearing his interpretations of Lenny and Eunice’s voice made the characters even more real, the story more frightening (and even better). Plus, he was pretty damn charming.
He opened the reading talking about how when he’s in Brooklyn he usually hangs out with a couple of poets, but here in Uptown Minneapolis (he kept calling it Uptown Minneapolis which was kind of adorable) he was hanging out with Jonathan Franzen and Per Petterson. “It’s like the literary hub of the universe,” he said. Hell yes, take that you naysayers of “flyover country.” You know who you are.
After he read a bit from the book, he spent some time talking about the technological aspects of the book and how the advance of technology is taking away our humanity. This, of course, prompted someone to ask him if he was worried about the future of books and he said that as long as there were people there would be the desire to read “these kinds of narratives.” Which is kind of an interesting way to put storytelling.
I was a little taken aback by how adorable and charming he was. I expected someone who writes such biting satire to be a kind of droll or sarcastic, but he wasn’t at all. It was a nice surprise.
However, the biggest surprise of the night is that I actually purchased Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. It’s Rock & Roll Bookclub’s fault.