Super Sad Love Story is tragically a visionary book. The future that brings up Gary Shteyngart is perfectly plausible. And is overwhelmingly disturbing. At times hilarious, but always alarming.
Part of the novel revolves around the idea of death. The worshiping of youth, youth as currency, and youth as a business. The cult of the body results in transparent clothes. But all grow old and die. No possibility to live forever, transmuted into a perfects and forever young replicants, beautiful replicants consumers. Individuals, families, societies and states, all die. As in the novel China comes to dominate the world -hasn’t it already happened?- and America ages and decays.
In this society which is not society because has no social values, labor that can no longer be labor, is useless, it is disposable. If you’re in your forties and you’re not rich, you’re a wreck, offal. This unsupportive society will not spend time or money in your old age. This society will leave you aside and will continue advancing. Advancing? Your ranking is equal to your credit, equal to how much you can spend. Paragraph that describes a fictional future but is applicable today.
Politicians are at the mercy of mega-corporations, the news is indistinguishable from advertising. The communication terminals are basically purchase terminals. Books are outdated objects. Reading is a vulgar, tacky unpleasant activity. Having books is like being outcast. Nobody reads, only data scanned.
It is the context established what is truly brilliant in the book, while part of the story about the desired young Eunice Park is sometimes repetitive. Although such repetition may be necessary to determine its character. The protagonist, Lenny Abramov, a worker in post-human services, the last reader and possessor of books, is also seduced by a female ideal of beauty based on youth. He is also a grotesque consumer of youth.
If Shteyngart were publicist instead of a writer would be dangerous. The names given to brands, new objects or media on a not too distant future are exactly those to come. Systems, behaviors and languages described fit perfectly in the course of current events. The author is showing us the news of tomorrow. And they are not friendly. As a comedy, Super Sad Love Story is quite tragic.
In this future the policies are simple “By reading this message you are denying its existence and implying consent”. And you will sign it. Of course you will sign it.
Super Sad Love Story
Super Sad Love Story