Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart (3 out of 5)

I’m a big fan of Gary Shteyngart. I’ve read all of his other books, but his memoir has to be my favorite of the bunch. “Lake Success” has been on many lists for “Best Books of Fall 2018”. It didn’t quite light my fire until halfway through. Our main character and his wife? I really wanted to kick both their asses until halfway through, and then one thing happened and boom! I suddenly wanted to see how this topsy turvy, cross country lesson in marriage counseling worked out. In his usual manner, Shteyngart finds a way to make his stubborn, irascible human beings into character studies that the reader ends up wanting to be friends with. It’s uncanny how many times he’s pulled that off with his stories. I would recommend this one to his fan base, and anyone looking for a way into his backlist. It is not my favorite of his, however.

Barry Cohen is a hedge fund manager undergoing what can only be called a midlife crisis. He’s being investigated by the SEC for financial shenanigans, his marriage is in deep waters, and his 3-year old son (his pride and joy) has just been diagnosed as severely autistic. He tosses his phone in a dumpster at the public transit authority, gets rid of his credit cards, takes out a limited amount of cash, and jumps on a bus to take a little cross country trip. Of course, he does this AFTER an argument with his wife, so no one knows he’s leaving. Some might call it running from his problems; others might call it a road trip. Seema, Barry’s beautiful, headstrong wife who sacrificed her career for the sanctity of domestic bliss, is feeling anything but. She’s formed her own little fan club with the husband of the neighbor downstairs, and she fails to recognize that she’s playing the wrong sort of part in this unravelling. Really, dear reader, it took a LONG time for me to like Seema. I felt like she was a hell of a mother, left a hell of a lot to be desired being a wife. Still, after reading what Barry’s been up to, the character can only be credited with doing the best that she could. It was this tug-of-war with the sympathy vote through much of this book. Their 3-year old son? No doubt the best character in the book, and his involvement is mutable because of the severity of his autism. All’s well that ends as well as it can here. The reader is treated to a heaping dose of nostalgia, the past, what could have been. This plot device is always a great, dark wing standing at the end of the hall, but it seems to be in play more and more through novels in 2018. The language is outstanding, as usual, in the novel. The only thing I didn’t love was the main characters, through more than half of the book. It was a good read.


~ by generationgbooks on September 28, 2018.

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