What can I say — the hype worked on me. I really want this book.
"The surprising and brilliant third novel from Russian-American satirist Shteyngart is actually two love stories — and while they’re both, as promised, super sad, they’re also incredibly (but very darkly) funny. The first love story chronicles the affair between Lenny Abramov, a shlubby but large-hearted salesman, and Eunice Park, 15 years his junior, a confused, shopping-obsessed daughter of Korean immigrants. Lenny is sweet but oblivious; Eunice is troubled, and runs hot and cold. Their relationship is uneasy; it hangs obstinately by a thread."
Whenever my friends are loyal to me, I’m always a little shell-shocked. I’m reminded that friendship actually means something, that it expresses itself in tangible reactions, that it creates a bias — and, unbelievably, that bias is toward … me.
They change the whole fabric of life for you, the people you decide to let into your microcosm. Sometimes this change is subtle, as in: yeah, you could have played that rousing game of tennis with almost anyone. But at other times I confront the fact that these alliances, though perhaps incidental at first, actually last. The ones that matter — they alter you.
“It takes so little, so infinitely little, for a person to cross the border beyond which everything loses meaning: love, convictions, faith, history. Human life - and herein lies its secret - takes place in the immediate proximity of that border, even in direct contact with it; it is not miles away, but a fraction of an inch.”—Milan Kundera (in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting)
"So many books, so little time, as coffee mugs are always telling us, so how do you decide what to read next? Most people rely on word of mouth from trusted friends. The seldom-acknowledged advantage to this method is that you can chew your friend out if she steers you wrong, whereas your recourse with regard to the New York Times Book Review is a lot less direct."
“Right in the middle of Prague, Wenceslaus Square, there’s this guy throwing up. And this other guy comes along, takes a look at him, shakes his head, and says, ‘I know just what you mean.’”—Milan Kundera (in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting)
“DiCaprio’s only 35, but he’s become a vastly different actor in his post-pretty-boy phase, and always seems to play guys who have a dead wife, a sweat-gland malfunction and a really urgent need to find the toilet.”—Andrew O’Hehir (for Salon.com’s bashing of “Inception”)
“'It seems to me,' said Magid finally, as the moon became clearer than the sun, 'that you have tried to love a man as if he were an island and you were shipwrecked and you could mark the land with an X. It seems to me it is too late in the day for all that.'”—Zadie Smith (in White Teeth)
“And when the universe has finished exploding all the stars will slow down, like a ball that has been thrown into the air, and they will come to a halt and they will all begin to fall towards the centre of the universe again. And then there will be nothing to stop us seeing all the stars in the world because they will all be moving towards us, gradually faster and faster, and we will know that the world is going to end soon because when we look up into the sky at night there will be no darkness, just the blazing light of billions and billions of stars, all falling.”—Mark Haddon (in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) (via fuckyeahliteraryquotes)
“Pain by itself is just Pain. But Pain + Distance can = entertainment, voyeurism, human interest, cinéma vérité, a good belly chuckle, a sympathetic smile, a raised eyebrow, disguised contempt.”—Zadie Smith (in White Teeth)
“I had forgotten that time wasn’t fixed like concrete but in fact was fluid as sand, or water. I had forgotten that even misery can end.”—Joyce Carol Oates (in I Am No One You Know: Stories) (via fuckyeahliteraryquotes)
“We need neither neurology nor philosophy to tell us that human beings are hardly perfect knowers. Sometimes we get it, but often we just get confused. People are often rather pathetic misunderstanders not to mention megaforgetters, chronic confusers, malaproposers.”—Ellen Spolsky (in “Darwin and Derrida: Cognitive Literary Theory As a Species of Post-Structuralism,” Poetics Today 23.1 (2002).)
"As any reader of mass-market romance novels could probably tell you, the brain areas associated with the pain of romantic rejection were the same ones involved in reward, motivation, physical pain, craving and addiction. (For instance, looking at photos of exes lit up regions that are activated in cocaine addicts’ brains — which may help explain quite a lot of the plot of those Twilight books.)”
"The human condition encompasses the experiences of being human in a social, cultural, and personal context.”
This phrase is ridiculous. It actually means everything and nothing at the same time: too vague and broad of a definition to actually represent anything, precisely because it’s meant to involve everything.
"The conventions and excesses of blurbology do invite mockery… . Like anything that people would rather not do, blurb-writing usually isn’t done very well. So why is it done at all? Because you, dear reading public, persist in giving credence to it. Please stop."
"Does this research — ‘neuro lit’ is one of its nicknames — energize literature departments, and, more broadly, generate excitement for the humanities? Is it yet another passing fad in liberal arts education? If the answer is both, why does theory matter, even if we sometimes don’t understand what the scholars are saying."
= my research for the summer. Not the debate, but the field itself. This article is a bit dated, but it’s a real good time.
“‘Gary has managed to escape the anxiety of influence by the sheer fact that he has never read a word…I really admire that state of pure, pure ignorance,’ deadpans best-selling Pulitzer-prize winner Jeffrey Eugenides. He’s speaking, of course, of novelist Gary Shteyngart, whose new novel Super Sad True Love Story has given birth to the strangest book trailer the world has yet seen.”
So many differences every day. Said goodbye, possibly forever, to a friend I’ve had since middle school. Then said goodbye to my family, which is an occurrence I find strange only because it happens so often. Now in a familiar-yet-foreign city on the brink of academic discovery, or maybe not.
It’s not just that I’m leaving — it’s that everyone’s leaving, and we are all individually and collectively leaving each other. Which is a mature enterprise, I’m sure, but not a very comforting one.
“'For fuck's sake, what more do you want?'
‘Oh every-bloody-thing,’ says Alsana, her voice losing the fight, becoming vulnerable. ‘The whole bloody universe made clear — in a little nutshell. I cannot understand a thing anymore, and I am just beginning. You understand?’”—Zadie Smith (in White Teeth)