Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart
Good news: I actually managed to read a book this week. Bad news: I didn’t enjoy it all that much.
Misha is an obese, very rich Russian man, who loves hip hop and dreams of getting back to NYC to see his American girlfriend (who may or may not think of him the same way). Unfortunately, his father killed an Oklahoman man, so the American government isn’t so keen on letting Misha in. In his attempts to get there, he gets stuck in the country of Absurdistan, where a civil war has just broken out, thanks, in part, to the involvement of American oil company Halliburton.
This is a satire, but it is so broad and obvious that the jokes hardly land. Also, the political jabs are just too easy. I sympathize with the viewpoint of the book, and yet even I was rolling my eyes a bit.
While Misha seems like a take on one of my favorite characters Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces, he is just too unlikeable and maybe not ridiculous enough to be that memorable. He has bluster and he tries to have swagger, but most of the time it’s just…off. Even though he’s colorful, he doesn’t have enough of an inner life to be effective.
Close, but no cigar Shteyngart.
Yikes. It’s been a rough few weeks with my reading. Come back next week though, because I’m actually enjoying the book I’m reading now! I know! Will wonders ever cease?!