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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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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    40
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Story

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • HRD
  • Kansas City
  • 01-22-14

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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Still laughing and weeping

Really, a great immigrant story. G. Shteyngart can coax a laugh and a sigh from the same sentence. He can place you right in the room with him, self deprecating and darling, and his perplexed, quasi lost but not helpless parents who just love him so much and, simultaneously, damage him terribly, and get you to see the moment he is describing from all sides. Particularly in scenes with G and his parents, you simultaneously feel for both of them.
Everyone in this story of life in the new world is trying his/her best, and making mistakes that scar deeply. When GS spoke the book's last lines I wanted more. I wanted to know what came next.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Witty and funny

You have to be from eastern Europe to fully enjoy this and empathize with his experience.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Scott
  • Scarborough, ON, Canada
  • 04-21-15

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.