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
"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)
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.
My personal identification with the author.
Davis Sedaris works.
It was good, but would have preferred the author's own voice. JTR sounded distinctly un-Jewish and un-New Yorker
this is a dumb question
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.
Greedy, voracious reader since age five. After a number of eye injuries & surgeries, reading is hard. So now, I listen.
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.
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.
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.
The author's ability to laugh at himself and his keen satire on a number of topics.
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.
lots of self depracating humor ala woody allen
everyone was very real--felt like you knew the characters
why Gary, of course!
His description of trying to fit in to his new high school, recognizing diversity in backgrounds but less diversity in intellectual abilities
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.
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