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Little Failure: A Memoir | [Gary Shteyngart]

Little Failure: A Memoir

After three acclaimed novels - The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Absurdistan, and Super Sad True Love Story - Gary Shteyngart turns to memoir in a candid, witty, deeply poignant account of his life so far.

Shteyngart shares his American immigrant experience, moving back and forth through time and memory with self-deprecating humor, moving insights, and literary bravado. The result is a resonant story of family and belonging that feels epic and intimate and distinctly his own. Provocative, hilarious, and inventive, Little Failure reveals a deeper vein of emotion in Gary Shteyngart' s prose.

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Publisher's Summary

After three acclaimed novels - The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Absurdistan, and Super Sad True Love Story - Gary Shteyngart turns to memoir in a candid, witty, deeply poignant account of his life so far.

Shteyngart shares his American immigrant experience, moving back and forth through time and memory with self-deprecating humor, moving insights, and literary bravado. The result is a resonant story of family and belonging that feels epic and intimate and distinctly his own. Provocative, hilarious, and inventive, Little Failure reveals a deeper vein of emotion in Gary Shteyngart' s prose. It is a memoir of an immigrant family coming to America, as told by a lifelong misfit who forged from his imagination an essential literary voice and, against all odds, a place in the world.

©2014 Gary Shteyngart (P)2014 Recorded Books

What the Critics Say

"Jonathan Todd Ross had to meet quite a challenge while narrating Shteyngart's memoir filled with humor, sarcasm, self-deprecation, and personal triumphs - and succeed he does in representing the author with pizzazz." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (213 )
5 star
 (71)
4 star
 (74)
3 star
 (43)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.8 (187 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.0 (180 )
5 star
 (79)
4 star
 (49)
3 star
 (32)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (14)
Performance
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  •  
    HRD Kansas City 01-22-14
    HRD Kansas City 01-22-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I loved this book - funny, sad, all that nonsense"
    What made the experience of listening to Little Failure the most enjoyable?

    My personal identification with the author.


    What other book might you compare Little Failure to and why?

    Davis Sedaris works.


    What about Jonathan Todd Ross’s performance did you like?

    It was good, but would have preferred the author's own voice. JTR sounded distinctly un-Jewish and un-New Yorker


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    this is a dumb question


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Max 04-27-14
    Max 04-27-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "did not do much for me"

    I bought this on recommendation from Audible based on my liking of Sedaris, Rakoff, and Ronsen. I find these books best when the authors are the narrators. Ross' voice seemed to mimic what I would imagine the author to sound like, so I'm not sure if it was the narration or just the story itself that failed to captivate me. I just didn't find it that humorous and it was so boring that I couldn't even finish it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wobbly WNC USA 04-18-14
    wobbly WNC USA 04-18-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wrong narrator for this book"

    If I could have rated only the narrator, I would have liked to. I could not take his overly theatric narration, so I gave up after a few chapters. It's therefore unfair for me to rate the story and writing since I'm sure I would love the book with a more appropriate reader. Google informs me this narrator is primarily a voice artist for children's animated films, and that makes total sense. Too much emoting from my earbuds.

    So I still need to read this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cranson 01-29-14
    Cranson 01-29-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Almost as good as Super Sad True Love Story"

    Jonathan Todd Ross did a great job bringing Gary's work to life. If I had been reading instead of listening, I might have struggled with the Russian words, so this was a good one to listen to. The ending falters a bit, becoming the typical "how I became a successful writer" story, which is why it was a four-star and not a five-star listen. This is a fairly negligible complaint, because most of the book is excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy Bethesda, MD, United States 01-14-14
    Judy Bethesda, MD, United States 01-14-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I loved it!"
    What made the experience of listening to Little Failure the most enjoyable?

    The narrator has a calm, clear voice. He is able to shift from an English accent to Russian accent to Russian to Hebrew in a smooth and natural way. He really captured the emotion in the words he read.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The author's ability to laugh at himself and his keen satire on a number of topics.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    yes


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joyce 05-12-15
    joyce 05-12-15

    Greedy, voracious reader since age five. After a number of eye injuries & surgeries, reading is hard. So now, I listen.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Exorcising his demons doesn't make a good book."

    This is an immigrant story without charm, a coming-of-age story without charm, a father-son conflict that made me cringe, and cringe again. The author writes about his struggle to define himself as an individual while caught in the heavy net of overbearing parents, the immigrant culture of his NYC neighborhood, the pull of his mother country, and the desire to be American. It's mildly interesting, but lacking a strong climax or even an intense focus to really pull you into the author's journey.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 04-21-15
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 04-21-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Funny in doses"
    Any additional comments?

    This amusing, frequently hilarious memoir chronicles Shteyngart journey from Soviet era childhood in Leningrad, to his family’s emigration in the late 70”s to New York, to his college years and first time book deal. Shteyngart indisputably has a gift for storytelling and turn of phrase and the narrative breezes along. His experiences are heavily dosed with self-deprecating humor and one liners that sometimes border on shtick. Though the book is often funny, I found that if I listened too long, it tended to lose its charm and grate a bit. I found I liked it much better when I listened to it in small, measured doses. The narration is spot on, capturing Shteyngart’s angst ridden persona. The mimicry of his parent’s Russian accents humorously (and without insult) enlivens what they are saying. If you haven’t read any of Shteyngart’s fiction (I hadn’t), don’t let that deter you from Little Failure. In the end, this is a lighthearted, breezy read that won’t change your life but will distract you from it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    melanie 04-18-15
    melanie 04-18-15 Member Since 2012
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    15
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    "well written narrative of the immigrant experience"
    What did you love best about Little Failure?

    lots of self depracating humor ala woody allen


    What did you like best about this story?

    everyone was very real--felt like you knew the characters


    Which character – as performed by Jonathan Todd Ross – was your favorite?

    why Gary, of course!


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    His description of trying to fit in to his new high school, recognizing diversity in backgrounds but less diversity in intellectual abilities


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bolie 01-20-15
    Bolie 01-20-15
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    "Good memoir... Good story..."

    Great performance.. Could do without the effort for fake Russian accents. Would have been better straight up English, without the poor attempts at foreign accents. They all sound like bad variations of Dracula.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mrs. Debra E. Humm-bremser 01-17-15 Member Since 2013

    I decided to use my time being laid up to get smarter! In 18 months I've listened to over 200 books, mostly history, literature & biography.

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    "Modern Soviet Immigrant Story"

    This author is smartly witty. The narrator is genius. His Russian accent gets fainter as the story goes along and the protagonist assimilates into the American culture.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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