Wednesday, December 27, 2006

149. "Absurdistan" ~ Gary Shteyngart


Misha, the obese, sweaty son of a Russian mafia lord, wants to return to New York City, home of his girlfriend and rap music. However, his father killed a man from Oklahoma, so Misha is on the permanent "no-admittance" list.

He schemes. He eats sturgeon. He schemes. He drinks Hennessey. He schemes. And he figures that he could become a Belgium citizen, perhaps making it easier for him to slip by and enter the U.S.

Absurdistan is adrift, too. The country relies on Halliburton (known by all as "Golly Burton") and American Express. Misha, as the 1,238th richest man in Russia, buys his way into politics and politician's daughter's panties.

Clearly a joke from the first lines, sometimes Shteyngart takes it a little too far. Mixing in dead bodies from the civil unrest with a throw-away joke about Starbucks is strange. Yet, so is Misha.

I thought Shteyngart was trying to be political. However, after I closed the book I realized that he just wanted to be funny. Overall, he succeeded 75 percent of the time.

3.75 out of 5.0 Russian Quaaludes.

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