Apparat Chic: Talking with Gary Shteyngart

Shteyngart_Gary For a guy who has spent the past few years writing a corrosively funny and deeply horrified vision of our networked lives, in his new novel Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart has certainly taken to the new media with aplomb. Starting with his cameo-crammed author video, the most chattered about of the year so far, and continuing with regular Facebook updates, it won't be long until he can leave the smelly world of books behind and become a 24/7 show on the web, like the rest of the world.

Whatever he's doing, it's working: SSTLS has been solidly lodged in our top 100 since it came out. It's also, for what it's worth, one of my Best of the Month picks for August. I got to talk with Shteyngart when he was in Seattle back in May: the audio versions have been live on the site for a while now, but I wanted to post them here along with a (lengthy) transcript, which provides plenty of room for his standup act (I cut out all the "[laughter]" notes from the transcript, since they happened pretty much in the middle of every sentence), but also, as you'll find in the book, some heartfelt sentiment too, especially about the loss of empathy that might result if we lose the habit of reading.

Amazon.com: So, we're in New York in Super Sad True Love Story and when are we in New York?

Shteyngart: I was envisioning a time when semi illiterate America completely collapses, so next Tuesday or something like that.

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