Gary Shteyngart: The Man, the Myth, the Blurbs

Gary Shteyngart burst onto the literary scene in 2002 with The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, his sublimely hilarious tale of one Vladimir Girshkin, “the immigrant’s immigrant, the expatriate’s expatriate, enduring victim of every practical joke the late twentieth century had to offer and an unlikely hero for our times.” The decade hence brought us two more smashing Shteyngartistic feats–Absurdistan (2006) and Super Sad True Love Story (2010)–and enough book blurbs to secure the writer a record or two in the Guinness Book, which probably already features his pithy praise on its back cover.

Shteyngart’s superhuman blurb output has occasioned a Tumblr and last month’s reading event-cum-roast, at which the author was made to sit in a child-size wooden chair on stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Now it’s onto video. “As we plant our giddy boots in the soil of a hopeful New Year, the blurbs have now spawned a documentary,” wrote Edward Champion in an e-mail sent today to “good souls, listeners, and cultural compadres.” In addition to editors, pundits, critics, cover designers, and authors blurbed by Shteyngart, the documentary–narrated by Jonathan Ames–features “cats and dogs and ice skaters and squirrels inveigled by money,” promises Champion. We laughed, we cried, it’s the feel-good blurb documentary of the year!