First Sentence: June 1
Today I’ve made a major decision: I am never going to die.
This is the first book of Gary Shteyngart’s that I’ve read. It won’t be the last. Set in the near-future where America as we know it is on the brink of collapse, this book tells the tale of Lenny Abramov, a near 40-year-old son of Russian immigrants who works for ‘Post-Human Services’, a kind of immortality provider for the super-rich . In this altered America, where everybody carries an äppärät (a kind of souped up iPad brimful with personal data) and credit poles display the credit ratings of passers-by, Lenny has a sense of not quite belonging . Not only does he still keep an actual diary but he also loves books (or ‘printed, bound media artifacts’ which most people actually think smell quite badly). When he meets the beautiful Eunice Park however, this all changes, only now, with riots breaking out in Central Park and the yuan-pegged dollar in free fall, can he find the strength to protect her form a world he himself does not fully understand? Written with great humour and humanity this book is an exhilarating satire which would be enjoyed by almost anyone. Funny, witty, engaging and full of linguistic zeal it definitely won me over and I’ll be looking out for Shteyngart’s name in the future.
* * * *
Last Sentence: Their Silence, black and complete.
Last Sentence explained: The novel ends even further in the future when Lenny is quite elderly. His diaries have been published and himself and Eunice have become a Romeo and Juliet type couple for the younger generation. [He even meets an actress who is due to play Eunice in an upcoming ‘video spray’]. They have become a myth, with their fate uncertain and at the end Lenny lies and tells the people he is with [including the young actress] that they all died. None of them survived. This proclamation is greeted with what Lenny really needs…