Gary Shteyngart set his latest novel in an undefined future, but not so much because “Super Sad True Love Story” couldn’t take place now. The electronic ratings devices his characters wear — broadcasting everything from their credit scores to relationship statuses — are probably just a Facebook mutation away. And the acronym-packed dialogue, aided by an increasingly incompetent celeb-crazed media, isn’t as foreign as you might hope.
Rather, Shteyngart just doesn’t believe in the present these days.
“Part of the problem is, there is no present left,” says the author. “When Tolstoy was writing ‘War and Peace,’ not that many things were changing. A horse was a horse. A carriage was a carriage. Today, there isn’t a today.”
As super funny as it is super sad, Shteyngart’s “Love Story” follows Lenny Abramov, a relative Luddite trying desperately to keep up with his younger girlfriend and a disturbingly plugged-in New York. “The Internet — once you give in to her, it never goes back,” says Shteyngart of where we’re headed. “We live in a world where everything is constant rankings. And maybe that’s a sign of any society — but with the
Internet, we can constantly rate and evaluate each other.”
Even so, Shteyngart hasn’t abandoned the Facebook page he made when writing the book. “I had an intern who helped me create the page. He showed me how the Internet works, because I really had no idea,” he jokes. “But now I realize what the Internet is good for — posting dachshund photos.”