What elements of Shteyngart’s dystopian near-future do you see in our contemporary world?
There are a few elements from the author’s interpretation of a dystopian society that I see in ours such as the never-ending presence of social media (as seen by Eunice’s deep attachment to her GlobalTeens account). Another element that is similar to ours is the presence of life lengthening methods.
In that same vein, do you feel that we really are in, or are headed for, a post-literate age? Have a media-saturated environment and short attention spans affected our ability to read and appreciate books?
Yes, I feel (and fear) that our world is headed to a similar future as the novel’s and yes, our world deeply affected by the media surely contributed to our generation’s inability to appreciate books and I fear for the future wherein people call books “printed, bound media artifacts”.
Lenny and Eunice come from two opposing cultures and have different ethnic backgrounds. While he is a ruminative book reader, hers is the generation of the instant and fleeting. For all their differences, why do you think Lenny and Eunice are drawn together? What do they share in common in terms of their personal history?
Indeed, Lenny and Eunice were brought up from two different backgrounds. Despite these, I think that the two were attracted to each other because of their differences. Lenny was into Eunice because she was young and pretty, something that he isn’t and Eunice is attracted to Lenny because he is a new kind of person in contrast to the people she usually interact with.
After a trip home to Long Island, Lenny contemplates an existence that is “at the end of the busted rainbow, at the end of the day, at the end of the empire.” What does he mean by this? Do you feel that we are at the end of an era?
I believe that he referred to the ever changing society around him. No, I don’t feel that we are at the end of an era, instead I feel that we are on the brink of starting a new one.
Lenny’s employer, Post Human Services, offers the promise of life extension for High Net Worth individuals. How do you think losing the assurance of death, a great equalizer, would affect the dynamic of society? If you had the option, would you seek out immortality?
Lesser dead bodies would surely affect the society. First, the world’s population would surely increase, given that laws about reproductive prohibition are not implemented. Another affect in the society, in my opinion, is that people would be more careless knowing that they could live forever. I, on the other hand, though I would absolutely enjoy seeing what our world’s future may be, would not seek immortality for I feel that I would grow restless with the feeling that I’ll never die, that I’ll never discover what’s on the other side, may be it be a void or another realm (if the religions are right). Perhaps I’ll seek a longer life instead.
Super Sad True Love Story is an epistolary novel—one written as a series of documents. Discuss the how Shteyngart’s use of diary entries and digital exchanges impacted your reading experience.
The book’s epistolary format affected my way of reading just the same as the previous assigned book did. It made my experience more intimate, as if I am reading the entries of a person who I know in real life.
One target of Shteyngart’s satire is the value placed on youthfulness. Discuss how this preoccupation manifests itself in the novel—consider Eunice’s relationship with Lenny and Joshie, The Post Human Services, and representations of the elderly.
I think that the author, Shteyngart, was fixated on the idea of the youth because the younger people are the ones most likely to be easily affected by the changing of times, and the increasing of technological devices. The fixation to live longer was very much present in Joshie, who aspires to never grow old, as seen on his want to replace every organs. In this book, I think the idea of being an elderly was something the people despised. I think they felt that it was something gloomy and sad, which I think so too.
Lenny has been described as a twentieth century man in a twenty-first century world. How, specifically, is he anachronistic to the “new” New York?
Lenny was antiqued about the ‘new’ New York due to his appreciation of outdated things, like books which the people from the present time sees as different.
Shteyngart includes elements of science fiction, romance, and dystopian fantasy. How do you think each of these genres manifests itself in the novel? Why is each important?
The element of science fiction manifested itself in the form of the newly formed technologies such as the life lengthening methods or the replacement of organs which is very futuristic stuff. The element of romance showed itself onto Eunice and Lenny’s relationship, which became the center of the novel. And lastly the dystopian element showed itself not just on the disagreements between countries but on the presence of a dumbed down, extremely sexed up culture as well as the unpleasant society the world’s future holds such as the shallowness of the future people with their inability to appreciate and enjoy intellectual things like books.
Super Sad True Love Story treads into dark territory—mortality, heartbreak, the demise of a culture—yet, as a satire, it relies heavily on humor for its social criticism. In your opinion, how important is humor in evaluating and responding to the world in which we live?
I think that humor is important in answering to the world we live in in a way that with humor, everything seems to be easier, more taken lightly that what they actually should be.
Though Super Sad True Love Story is set in the (very near) future, there is a strong immigrant presence that also harkens back to the American past. Discuss the portrayal and significance of immigrants in the novel.
Immigrants are portrayed as
In the Super Sad universe, there is no such thing as a private detail. In our world, what do you feel are the benefits and pitfalls of social media? Where should we draw the line in terms of what we broadcast about our personal lives?
In this universe the characters can easily reach into their smartphones which they call apparat and know every nitty detail about a person. I think that some of the benefits of social media is that people feel more appreciated and validated while one of its’ downsides is that people tend to share things more than what they should without them being considered as taboo.
Despite it being a humorous satire, I feel that it was unmoving. But still, this book was a great representation of what our society’s future could be.