One advantage to living alone with two cats who don’t drive is that you can get more reading done. Not just at the dinner table and in bed, but also at the mechanics’ since there is no one to help drop your car off. I was thinking about this today while waiting two hours to get a flat repaired.
Fortunately I had Gary Shteyngart’s memoir to keep me company. I’d picked it out of a lineup of several attractive options, and it grabbed me by the throat from page one. There is something about his story—his self-deprecation, his vulnerability, and the challenges of growing up Russian in America during the Cold War—that makes this book engrossing. The title is, of course, ironic: he is a best-selling novelist (most recently of Super Sad True Love Story). But his father calls him “Little Failure.” Not ironically. And that is the heart of the narrative, but that is not all.
Little Failure is one of those books that—like a scary movie—makes you want to look away, but then you can’t help it: you want to see what happens next.