I review Love Water Memory over at The Coast: “Jennie Shortridge’s fifth novel takes pains to find sure footing but seems to stumble its way towards a climax. The characters are less well-rounded or real as they are sketches for a made-for-TV movie. Still, there’s something in a light read that strives for depth, not quite catching it. If you like your traumatic back stories as more of a footnote or are a fan of Nicholas Sparks, then it might be for you. Save this one for hotter days and sandy beaches.”
She suggests we become pen pals, though we live only a twenty-minute walk from each other, and suddenly it seems like my best friends are always screens, stamps, and several failed plans away. Like I woke up one morning and we suddenly stopped making time for each other. Or maybe it was always that way and I’m only just realizing it.
Another season of Girls ends and the last scene, as Hannah is rescued by her awful mistake of an ex-boyfriend instead of any one of her closest friends bubbles up in me such a raw desolation that I can’t stop sobbing, long after the credits roll. It’s because they all seem so broken and I see myself in all of their selfishness and most of their mistakes but they’re still girls, and I’m almost 28. When do you stop having an excuse for not having it together?
I stay up way too late and think about rekindling friendships long faded, making apologies for why things ended, if I can even remember. Maybe I was too idealistic in how I thought a friend should be. Maybe I could be more forgiving.
Friends Like Us seemed like the perfect read to match my mood. And it is but it isn’t because here’s two best friends that live in their own bubble, mistaken for sisters, a language all their own—it captures perfectly that ease, the support and adoration when you’re just so smitten with a friend that the years before you knew them are almost defined by that. Before careers, schedules and relationships seem to get in the way. Before like in Girls, we start turning to others for help. Why wasn’t it Marnie, Hannah’s oldest friend, that ran to her that night? Was there too much said between them? Too many disappointments? Have they just drifted too far apart? At what point does a friendship start to erode in on itself and can you catch it, fix it, send it back on track? Or is it a kind of inevitable motion, like falling, that you just have to let play out? Set it free and if it comes back to you, yadda yadda yadda. I know now that sometimes they do.
In Friends Like Us you start out at the end, an awkward run-in for Willa and Jane, years after whatever breaks them apart has done its damage and the dust has had time to settle but they don’t rekindle anything. They say the things they’ve been harbouring for years and then they go back to their respective and very separate lives. The rest of the book is what leads up to that inevitable end. It’s depressing but captivating. All the characters are fully formed and nuanced. It’s playful, funny, but sad too, and it’s so full of longing that it’s pretty heartbreaking to get to the end and know that some friendships can’t withstand the things we submit them to. That we can mess everything up but not love a person any less. That no amount of years going by will stop you from replaying conversations, remaking moves, and wondering wondering wondering how you could have done things differently. Maybe that’s just a risk you take when you love anyone, only you expect romantic relationships to end and to ultimately get over them… but there’s no guidebook on how to get over a friend.
Lately it’s everything. The first sunny day it seems in months and I read Nora Ephron’s last book I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections in an hour in my most comfortable chair. It’s really Gerald’s chair but now, all of these things feel like our things. She talks so much about mortality and it’s haunting. She was by all rights still young, too young to be talking so much about death and not three years later she died. It’s incredibly sad, the last chapter in the book is a list of things she will miss and the very last item is pie. And so I cry because I think about pie and sharing pie and suddenly the years are gone and maybe my own mother will be gone someday too and I don’t even like pie.
We take little pills and make little pay cheques and try to be the best possible versions of ourselves and then one day all we leave are words behind.
I spent my holiday break in New Mexico. Which, if you’ve never been, is choice, I hiiiighly recommend it. Of course I got the most vicious of colds, because that’s what happens to me nearly every time I set foot on a plane, and I ran quickly out of money but the good news is I got plenty of reading done. Also, I got a Kobo Glo for Christmas and hell froze over. Wait, wait, wait before you throw my own words back in my face, there’s actually a perfectly good reason I went over to the electronic darkside. Netgalley. A site that connects book reviewers/reading professionals (which is an actual thing, life dream complete) with publishers. I request what I want and if I look legit based on my profile (so legit, BTW) then I get access to a free ebook copy. I hate reading books on screen but this is too good to pass up. So, I tried to make do with my computer—awful, reading never felt so much like work—gave up and asked for an ereader instead. It took a little convincing of G that it was something I actually wanted. That’s how much I’m not a fan of ereaders. But, in the end there it was under the tree, with a rad typewriter embossed case so that I can feel like even more of a hypocrite. Ha! In all seriousness, though, maybe I gave the thing too hard of a time. There are several instances when it just might be BETTER than real live, hold ‘em in your hands books. Like, late night driving if you’ve never invested in a book light. Life saver. Or if you have access to ebooks that you need to read but no comfortable way of reading them… so… at least two ways they beat books. Otherwise. Sorry, no. Real book every time.
Anyway, one of such books I read over the holidays was Wise Men by Stuart Nadler. I can already assume this will be a contender for my favourite book of the year. The son of a lawyer, Hilly Wise, is caught up in a life he doesn’t recognize when his father wins a big negligence case against an airline. Part of the nouveau riche in Cape Cod in the early ’50s Hilly meets and falls in love with a young African American girl, Savannah, at a time when their relationship only finds obstacle after obstacle, not the least among them, his overtly racist father. The summer they spend together changes him and the rest of the book chronicles how one season carries through and touches the rest of his life. Stuart Nadler is pretty fantastic. I wasn’t especially excited to read this book but from the first couple pages, I was completely drawn in. It’s not that any of the characters are particularly likeable, actually, most of them are maddening—but to watch them each circling their own drain is immensely satisfying.
Nadler isn’t heavy handed with serious themes, they take a back seat to character development—people who you might love then hate, but at the very least, constantly surprise you.
Yay! Salty Ink’s Judge a Book by Its Cover Contest is back! One of the only two contests I participate in when it comes to best of book selection (the other being Goodreads’ best of the year vote) and this is by far my favourite. In part because choosing a book based solely on its cover design and blurb is something that I do all the time. Of course, I usually read the first page too to get a sense of the writing style and if I’ll like it. I used to know someone who read the last page first so they’d know how it would end, but that’s just going too far. A little OCD, even. In any case, it’s here, it’s awesome, and will sate your visual appetite. Also, a talented lady I work with has several of her covers featured, too. This being one of them. I’m still into the whole chalkboard look. I also really liked Animal Husbandry Today’s fail whale cover and The Land of Decoration for its collection of things that reminds me of pressed flowers and the little things I used to collect as a child.
I’m not usually a fan of end of year lists as much as people seem to make them, especially since, when it comes to books, there’s almost no way that you (or at least I) can get to every book in my to-read pile, especially considering a lot of the books I want to read aren’t usually published the year I read them, I’m a bit slow to the game with these things. So, it was lucky this year that I started writing book reviews for The Bookshelf as well as The Coast (and here on the blog) because between the three of them I was often knee-deep in new books.
This week was the Critics’ Picks issue of The Coast which means I had to compile my Top 12 of 2012 books of the year list and happily this year (maybe unlike last year, shhhh) I had read so many books (68 and counting) that all the books on my list were both published this year and rated well by me on Goodreads. In the next couple of days I’m going to post a companion list to this one featuring my list of the year just in general, new and old, the best books I’ve read this year. I’m curious to see how different they would be.
My Top 12 of 2012 (books published this year)
A somewhat bumbling provincial attorney Leo Curtice is saddled with the task of defending a 12-year-old boy after he molests and murders an 11-year-old girl. Drawn into the boy’s past and seemingly inability to understand the significance of his actions, Leo finds himself not just the only person willing to even consider defending the child but also, maybe, his only friend. It’s disturbing novel, not just for the boy but how he’s perceived in a system that pretends to withhold judgement until proven guilty. It’s horrifying to consider at what point a child stops being a child and turns into a monster—and scarier still what you can lose if you defend that monster. I’m not a huge crime fan, but this one was hard to put down.
I wrote about this one just the other day. Sloan’s novel about a life-lost guy who finds himself working at a strange bookstore that turns out to be a kind of front for a secret society’s quest for the secret of immortality is swiftly engaging and fun. Even if it doesn’t turn out how you (or the characters) necessarily want it to, it still manages to share a few life secrets with you, regardless. Maybe I’m biased because a literary-based mystery is just too appealing, but then again I never really fell for The Davinci Code, so I think I’m doing alright.
After reading The End of Everything and being totally unable to shake it, I had to read Megan Abbott’s newest novel and see if it was just a one-off. Dare Me is focuses again on the tight friendship between two young girls only this time, that bond is far more insidious. Both are cheerleaders who develop an unhealthy obsession with their new coach and how that obsession begins to define their friendship. It’s sort of Mean Girls meets Crush or Election only way darker and just as enthralling as The End of Everything.
I love love love Nick Hornby. I haven’t written about him until now, but he’s one of those writers who I search out and gobble up every word they write (see also: Barbara Kingsolver, John Fowles, Anais Nin, Haruki Murakami, I could probably go on…). He’s equal parts smart and funny, which is nice, and he just, I dunno, writes the kinds of books I never want to stop reading. He also writes a column for The Believer called Stuff I’ve Been Reading which is really, really good. It’s sometimes rambly and oftentimes completely unrelated to books but it’s also probably the best and most realistic description of reading activity that I’ve seen from a book critic (every month there’s a list of the books he’s bought and the ones he’s read, they don’t always overlap) anyway, fan girl squeeing aside, this is a collection of one year’s worth of that column. Totally worth reading, but only if you love books… wait… if you don’t love books why are you even reading this?
An aging man gets a letter from an old friend that is dying and sets out on a really long walk to reconnect with her. Along the way he gets hurt, famous, considered senile, forgotten and finds peace. It’s such an odd premise that I had to read for myself. Rachel Joyce’s depiction of Harold Fry and his estranged wife is so quietly tragic that you just can’t help falling for them a little, and rooting for their failed marriage. The scene where she is pairing her clothes with his is just, perfect. This book is a slow ambler, kinda paced the way Harold is, so if you don’t have the patience, you might want to skip it.
The follow-up to 2010′s The Passage (which I just read this summer) deserves to be on this list solely for the anticipation it garnered while I waited for fall and my advanced copy… it’s a giant blockbuster of a series which is going to be a giant blockbuster of a movie too. You get the feeling that’s what Cronin always planned for in this epic sweeping action series about a military-made virus that ushers in the vampire apocalypse and the world’s human survivors that attempt to make sense of the world they grew up in decades upon decades later. This book wasn’t near as good as the first one but the story is still pretty awesome. Read it before they make it a movie so you can get in on the ground floor.
They call it a novel-in-stories, but what Carrie Snyder manages in her second book is deeper and more coherent than that. Juliet grows up in Nicaragua (post-revolutionary war) with her two brothers as almost an afterthought for their activist parents, until illness drives them home and into the immediacy of conventional family life. Each early chapter is a glimpse, a hazy portrait of ten year old Juliet that doesn’t fully form until later, as a collection, comes understanding. Back in Canada, the fractured family continues to deal with reverberations from their past, unable to forgive each other, instead clinging to Nicaragua as this place out of time, free from the stamp of grief. It’s only in going back to confront the ghosts that Juliet is able to come to terms with her stories and begin a family of her own. Snyder is phenomenal here, crafting some of the most striking images and beautiful sentences that you will likely read all year. The Juliet Stories is not to be missed. (Re-posted from The Coast)
Short-listed for the Giller Prize, I’ve blogged about Inside before—Ohlin’s novel about Grace, a sincere therapist and the people she becomes entwined with will have you diagnosing characters left right and centre, although each one will manage to surprise you—it’s a bit obsessive and maddening but engrossing just the same. Although, most of the characters are unlikeable assholes that you don’t mind watching fall apart, so you definitely have to be into books where you don’t need to relate to or root for the people in it. Let’s just book club and laugh maniacally together as they fail.
The only thing better than Adam Marek’s book of fantastic short stories is imagining how he possibly came up with them. Absurd, darkly comic and at times head-scratchingly bizarre, Marek’s talent for rending the supernatural or outrageous in real, human terms is mind-boggling. A couple finds out they are pregnant with 37 babies. A man is diagnosed with cancer just before the city he lives in is attacked by a Godzilla-like beast. A pet shop sells animals by volume. A man working in a restaurant for zombies finds out the meat is locally-sourced. Another man travels to the inner workings of his mind only to discover the controls are manned by Busta Rhymes. The premise is always wildly weird, but Marek manages to take the fantasy from unbelievable to relatable in a few short pages, surprising you with emotional insight not usually attributed to the sci-fi section. This is a gem of a collection—no story left behind. (Re-posted from The Coast)
By Jaime Forsythe
In her first book of poetry, Forsythe manages to create a fascinating balance between the oddly witty and beautifully weird that most writers only dream about, or go wildly off the mark while attempting it. It’s a riveting collection that pays tribute to the strangeness in everyday life. I’ve written about it here and here already. That’s just how lovely it is. Plus, she’s from Halifax which makes it even better. (Who doesn’t love to read poetry that’s influenced by places they often frequent?) If you’re going to only read one book of poetry this year, it should be this one.
2. This is How You Lose Her (Riverhead)
By Junot Díaz
The follow-up short story collection to the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao sees Yunior’s life set against a backdrop of heartbreak. The women he loves and inevitably loses because of his own short-comings romanticize that special kind of failure in the tender, raw and darkly comedic way that Díaz has long perfected. It’s cut from the same cloth that Oscar Wao was—full of untranslated words and seemingly autobiographically-tinged sexism—so if that rubbed you the wrong way, then this will too. Personally, I’ll probably read everything Díaz throws at us, even that weird sci-fi epic that’s reportedly in the works called Monstro.
1. The Rook (Back Bay)
By Daniel O’Malley
One fantasy book to rule them all, The Rook is part Memento-esque amnesia mystery and part political thriller with a dash of Men in Black-level government-weird to keep you guessing, laughing and crossing your fingers for a sequel more than any other genre could. It’s exactly what you didn’t know you were looking for. When Myfanwy Thomas awakes in the rain with dead bodies surrounding her, she knows only what is provided by a letter in her pocket addressed to her from…herself. She learns that she holds a high level position in a secret supernatural government agency—organized like a chess board—and that a traitor from within stole her memories and still wants her dead. In a thrilling page turner that is as funny as it is suspenseful. Rook Thomas, guided by a suitcase of letters from her former meticulous self, needs to solve the mystery before her would-be murderer succeeds while juggling her everyday responsibilities like, oh, running an organization that employs people who type with tentacles, subverting a Frankenstein-esque Belgian invasion, and figuring out how to control her recently discovered superpowers. The Rook melds the best of all genres into a fantastically fun and intensely readable debut novel. (Re-posted from The Coast)
YAY! My top 5 books read this year, period, to follow.
Half-way through Robin Sloan’s bibliophile adventure tale I wasn’t sure that I liked it quite as much as I wanted or expected to. Here were all the ingredients to the perfect story, and for all intents and purposes, I was Sloan’s target audience. So, I was surprised that the adventure wasn’t nearly as striking or pulse pounding as I hoped it would be, but then, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore begins with struggling designer Clay Jannon happening upon a help-wanted sign in a mysterious bookstore, exactly the kind of bookstore that I would foam at the mouth to discover, let alone work for, but this is no ordinary bookstore—when Jannon’s curiosity leads him to open one of the books in the tall stacks of the “Waybacklist” he sets in motion an adventure of decoding, spying, infiltrating a secret society and the age-old quest for immortality that hangs heavy in almost all the fantasy novels of my youth. Like Clay Jannon, I owe a great deal of my own imaginative swings to great fantasy series like the Chronicles of Narnia, His Dark Materials and The Lord of the Rings—for Clay, it’s his childhood love of a series called The Dragon-Song Chronicles that primes him for adventure in the first place (after all, if not a fantasy-lover, whose mind would automatically hover in a suspension of disbelief?) and then connects all the mysterious dots, like a key. But, as is the case for so many quests—the result, the treasure, the holy grail is never quite what you expect it to be.
The holy grail in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore isn’t what I thought it would be, and like some of the characters who were holding their breath for the secret of life, I was expecting a big hullabaloo, words of wisdom, a secret—the secret—and like so many who hold their breath for such things, I was ultimately disappointed… but only for a moment.
It’s not the quest that makes Sloan’s novel fantastic, not the fantasy, the mystery or the chase—it’s the very last paragraph in a brightly crafted, spinning read that moves you without even realizing it. It’s heart-warming, frenzied, often hilarious tribute to all the books that have come before, all the friendships you forge with the written word, and it’s this—the very last line, “A clerk and a ladder and a warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.”
Because sometimes, that’s all it takes. It’s the trump card, Sloan—you nailed it.
Lizzie Hood, your average suburban middle-class tween is suddenly not so average when her best friend Evie goes missing one day after school. Overnight she becomes the closest link police have to the missing girl and the crutch Evie’s father leans on in her disappearance. She must know something, maybe she just doesn’t recall it, but she must know something. In her efforts to uncover the truth about Evie’s disappearance, Lizzie treads closer and closer to an adult world she can’t quite comprehend, the violence of desire and the lengths she’s willing to go to bring her friend back.
Megan Abbott writes crime thrillers so you might be surprised to find out that the actual crime here is secondary to the story. What Abbott really focuses on is the insidious relationship that brews between young girls and the older male figures in their lives. This is a line Abbott toes throughout the book and then casually stomps right over.
The most curious part is the agency the girls have. It’s Lizzie who puts herself in compromising positions with Evie’s father, Lizzie whose desire for a father figure—or maybe to be part of Evie’s family—moves her to command his attention in any way that she can. The father is supposedly so grief-stricken that he either can’t see what’s happening or perverted enough to see how far she’ll take it. Both Evie and her sister, Dusty, are equally fulfilling their own destinies. There are no adults in The End of Everything; there are teenagers stumbling into maturity and parents who refuse to take responsibility for themselves or the impact they are having on their kids. And the kids? The kids aren’t taken…they go willingly.
It has tinges of Lolita but told through the eyes of the Lolita that Humbert imagines. As though, any young girl would want that. But, then, maybe I just didn’t grow up in the same suburbia that they did. If you’re looking for a hard-to-put-down read you’ve definitely found it, but the story—and the dark slimy layers underneath it—aren’t as easy to abandon as the book is when you’re through.
A quick recap for all my admiring fans. cough. I got more traffic on my last post about the publishing apocalypse than on anything else all year! I feel like this means I’m not a crazy person ranting to the wind. Rather, a crazy person ranting to the relative silence of the internet.
To my left is my most recent book review for The Coast, they didn’t see fit to post it online but it was in the print paper. The book of poetry is Sympathy Loophole by Jaime Forsythe, a local writer, and it is actually slap-yourself-in-the-face-amazing. She’s that good. Quirky, funny, but also a little dark and disturbing. All things that are good in a book of poetry. And reading it didn’t feel like a chore—as I find a lot of poetry does—rather, each new poem was a treat to be read and reread. I mean, any author that has you reading up to and including their page of acknowledgements is pretty special.
Today, you can find a bit of fiction I wrote called “The Last Summer of Love” over at Pooping Rainbows:
It was the summer of engagement. Almost as if—like a light turning on—the entire generation took that next relationship step together, feet protruding in unison.
At first, you wanted to hear all the details: the whens and whys and hows of it all. But, WILL YOU MARRY ME? spelled out in beach rocks was superseded by a villa in Italia and then a handmade scrapbook with Post-it notes, rings hidden in cakes, Jumbo-trons, hot air balloons, a dolphin trained to flip a fish into her hands—“But look inside it!” Screaming yes with fish bones in her hair and scales under her nails, which of course would all wash off but the ring…the ring would last forever.
You can also scan last month’s “Ophidiophobia” which is a little bit darker:
I’ve always been afraid of earthworms. Their bodies curling in around themselves, stranded on the pavement, each segment a revulsion, what I imagine the inside of my throat to look like—pulled inside out.
And, that’s about it for now. Thanks for keeping up with me!
I don’t like the idea of ereaders and tablets. There, I said it. Even though, as a child, I coveted Penny’s blinking electronic book in the Inspector Gadget cartoon—I was always quite sure that it was the sort of thing for crime solving, not curling up with a cup of tea and a good book in your favourite chair. The amount of time I spend in my life staring at a screen—I don’t care how “easy on the eyes” they say Kindles are—it’s not going to be the same as looking at a page, it just isn’t. Not to mention that I am a really messy reader. I eat on my books, I get smudges on my books, you can open anything on my shelf and you will probably find a myriad of stains and dog-eared pages. You’ll probably see a few crumbs fall out if you give it a good shake from its spine. I don’t want to worry about ruining yet another electronic gadget—I ruin so many as it is.
Owning books is a social thing. I like having them on display, I like that when my friends come over they usually spend some time seeing what’s new or what they have yet to borrow. Maybe it’s more childhood residue from playing “librarian” when I would attach borrowing slips into the back of all my books and then encourage my stuffed animals to peruse the selection. “Why yes, Monkey, I think this Anne of Green Gables would be absolutely perfect for you. Give Gilbert Blythe a chance, he grows on you.” But, a book collection, for bookworms can be a status symbol. You learn a lot from what people have on their shelves, if you care to look. I always look.
I guess that’s why in Super Sad True Love Story I totally get where the main character, Lenny Abramov is coming from. In a possible American future of civil unrest, Lenny works as an intake officer at Post-Human Services, a half scientific-half spiritual corporation that sells immortality to a percentage of the population. Lenny is obsessed with the idea that at thirty-nine, he is in a slow decline to death, he has two friends, an obsession with a much younger woman, and books… lots and lots of books. So many books that he has to spray them with Pinsol (because the smell of book is offensive) before his lady friend comes over. In this future people read only digitally, if they read at all, image-intake and data-streaming are really the norm, in fact wasting words is absolutely frowned upon so it’s better to talk in abbreviations—think a MSN messenger-Facebook-rate me-hybrid that has replaced human connection completely. They don’t even talk anymore, they “verbal”. So, Lenny is ridiculed and looked down on because he reads, “talks funny” (i.e. in complete sentences), and looks his age. It’s funny at first, then unsettling, and then downright scary.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Your E-Book is Reading You, there’s a lot of talk about the digital analytics that publishers can glean from ereaders. They can tell when you start a book, what page you stop on, how long it takes you to read it, if you start and stop or read it in one sitting, what sentences you underline, if you quit the book entirely, what book you download next on finishing it. In some cases, companies like Coliloquy have harnessed the feedback power to create choose-your-own-adventure style readings in which what you choose informs how the author writes.
Let me just pause and repeat that for a moment. What you choose informs how the author writes.
For example, they cite a chicklit love decision:
In Tawna Fenske’s romantic caper “Getting Dumped”—which centers on a young woman who finds work at a landfill after getting laid off from her high-profile job at the county’s public relations office—readers can choose which of three suitors they want the heroine to pursue. The most recent batch of statistics showed that 53.3% chose Collin, a Hugh Grant type; 16.8% chose Pete, the handsome but unavailable co-worker; and 29.7% of readers liked Daniel, the heroine’s emotionally distant boyfriend.
Ms. Fenske originally planned to get rid of Daniel by sending him to prison and writing him out of the series. Then she saw the statistics. She decided 29.7 % was too big a chunk of her audience to ignore.
The audience made an authorial decision.
Now, I know this is sort of a low-brow example but at its heart it symbolizes everything that scares me about the future of publishing. To me, literature and reading in general has always been a private experience. Even if you consider book clubs and English classes, while the discussion helps break down themes and interpretations, the actual reading is done on your own and what you immediately take away from the book may be different than what someone else does. Basically, when you read, you are in a private and unique conversation with the text, not even the author, necessarily, because what they intend might not translate to your experience. But you and that text, man that’s intimate, and I don’t know about all of you but I don’t want a text to shape itself to my desires—I want it to challenge me, open me up, get deep—I want a sort of dirty, sensual reading that would be inappropriate to air in public but really gets to the core of me. And that’s how it’s supposed to be.
What if readers gave up on Mr. Darcy before Elizabeth Bennett could fall in love with him? What if the unlikable Frodo had been sacrificed early and Merry and Pippin took the ring to Mount Doom? What if Harry and Hermoine got together at the beginning of the series? What if countless heroines escaped their tragic fate? If readers had a say, would Lolita have ever been abused? Would Romeo and Juliet narrowly escape their fate? Would endings ever be unhappy?
I know I’m going to extremes here, but I could list examples all day.
With books like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey already shaping a future of readers, arts-funding cut at every turn—in Canada, our small press industry really got the shaft—and the rise of a digital culture based completely on consumption, it’s no longer quite a stretch to think that our future might be a series of abbreviated flashing sentences that conform immediately to your own expectations and desires.
Gary Shteyngart was writing several years ago, at what might be considered the cusp of our digital transformation, so while Super Sad True Love Story‘s dystopian future full of illiterate, sheer pants wearing, immortality chasers might have seemed semi-plausible to him, it’s beginning to look a lot less funny to me.