Absurdistan – Review – ***1/2

Once again, I have lost the notes I made while reading this book, which is a pain in the ass, because I’m pretty sure there were quotes on there (and quotes means I get to make the review look longer while writing less)!

I remember being incredibly off-put by this book, and I don’t mean angry or pissed off. I just felt like I had missed something. Maybe a better phrase would be “wrong-footed.” It was like I knew he was satirizing something, but…I wasn’t sure exactly what. I wasn’t sure exactly who should be offended. I wasn’t sure what his thesis was. I have suspicions, but…*shrug.*

I don’t consider myself a particularly dense or stupid person. Maybe I should. Maybe others who read and “got” this book should feel righteously superior to me. Maybe my confusion stems from the fact that the book is written about the social and political, um, politics or a world I am not familiar with. Maybe all those review excerpts on the back cover were right, and this really is a work of phenomenal genius on par with Catch-22. Maybe. Or maybe Shteyngart is a little less clever than he thinks he is (oh, har har, there’s a conniving little bitch of a character named Jerry Shteynfarb, I see what you did there!), a little too caught up in the grotesque imagery he creates with his obscenely fat main character, a little on the nose in his depiction of a war built around a stockpile of oil that doesn’t actually exist, and I actually got it just fine.

I’m not being sarcastic here, I honestly don’t know, but I think for that reason this book would be great for some sort of discussion group. The prose, while often irritating to me (see above), was also undoubtedly the work of someone, like Michael Chabon, in total control of the English language. I’m sure it could really resonate with people who have different interests, familiarities, and world views than mine. And I hope there’s no shame in admitting that you really just didn’t understand a well-reviewed best-seller. So three-and-a-half stars for the values of thought-provoking-ness and good writing, but not really enjoyment.

Cannonball Read III: 16/52

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Posted on September 26, 2011, in 100 things in 1000 days, Book Reviews, Books, Cannonball Read 3 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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