Sunday, January 5, 2014

Little Failure

By Gary Shteyngart

Contrary to the self-deprecating title, Little Failure is a true account of the trials and successes of a Jewish Russian immigrant, settling in America with his well-meaning but rigidly frugal parents. Gary Shteyngart turns a lifetime of exclusion and longing into a heartbreakingly hilarious memoir as he takes the reader through a failure-by-failure account of his inimitable life.

From his humble beginnings as a sickly asthmatic child to his drug-induced education and the hazy working years beyond, Little Failure captures Shteyngart’s struggles to maintain a sense of self while simultaneously shedding an immigrant image. You can’t help but sympathize with the skinny kid from Hebrew school with a talent for story-telling and a tendency toward bullying. 

The need to please seemingly loveless parents, the failed relationships born of self-hatred, the bittersweet introduction to illegal substances, and most startlingly, the repressed memory of the Chesme Church; each painful admission from the author captivates the reader and provides a rare and candid glimpse into the life of a successful writer. Gary Shteyngart is flawlessly open in his midlife memoir, effortlessly evoking humour from the best and worst moments of his life.

If you’re struggling with an identity crisis or desire to fit in, or if you’ve enjoyed any of Shteyngart’s acclaimed fictional novels, you won’t want to miss Little Failure. You’ll laugh and tear up and relive each moment alongside Shteyngart. It may even inspire you to write your own life story.  

Laura Martin's lifelong addiction to fiction took a back seat when she went to the University of Guelph for Molecular Biology and Genetics. She became fascinated with neurological conditions like Alzheimer's Disease and dementia, and is hoping to attend Dalhousie University in the spring for a Masters in Neuroscience.

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