ending the year with a little laughter (Gary Shteyngart)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I am at work on a long essay and preparing for the memoir class I'll teach this spring at the University of Pennsylvania

This is hardly drudgery.

I am, for example, entertaining myself by reading Gary Shteyngart's brilliant bittersweetness, Little Failure. It is quite an effort, between crying at all the funnies and crying at all the sads, but I have persevered.

Today, last day in a year that has been hard for so many of us, on so many of us, I pluck a passage from Little Failure to share. The deliberately understated absurdity of it made me holler with laughter. I hope it makes you laugh, too. Sometimes laughter is the best gift we can give another.

Here are Gary and his father, relative newcomers to Queens. They have an adventure:

There's a movie theater on Main Street, and my father is excited because they are showing a French movie, and so it must be very cultured. The movie is called Emmanuelle: The Joys of a Woman, and it will be interesting to see how joyful these Frenchwomen actually are, most likely because of their exquisite cultural patrimony. ("Balzac, Renoir, Pissarro, Voltaire," my father sings to me on the way over to the theater.) The next eighty-three minutes are spent with Papa's hairy hand clasped to my eyes, the Herculean task before me: getting it unclasped. The less explicit parts of Emmanuelle: The Joys of a Woman are set in a Hong Kong brothel or a Macao girls' boarding school, and then it's all downhill from there.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper II by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP