Wednesday 19 March 2008

Snack Daddy

by Gary Shteyngart

In A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole created one of literature's greatest comic characters in the bloated form of Ignatius J. Reilly. As you can see from the picture above Simon Schama feels that Gary Shteyngart has repeated the feat with his hero Misha Vainberg, aka Snack Daddy. Son of the 1,238th richest man in Russia and weighing in at 325 pounds (just over 23 stone in old money) he is certainly a striking figure. In thrall to Western values and culture he longs for nothing more than a return to the United States and his love Rouenna, but with a visa out of the question after his father's involvement in the murder of an American citizen he has to resort to slightly more convoluted measures to get what he wants.

Or I think that's how it goes, because I couldn't finish it. I got about 135 pages in and I simply wasn't getting the laughs or 'scathing satire' that had been promised on the blurb. The humour was pretty puerile, the satire a little old and tired and there was something soft about the target, the whole East/West politics/oil exploitation thing has reached self-paordying proportions by now. So maybe I just came to the book too late (although it was only published last year) but I couldn't really be bothered to carry on. But if anyone tells me that things really get going on page 136 I can always try again.


John Self 21 March 2008 at 21:17  

Oh dear. I bought this recently as the freebie in a 3-for-2. It's come to something when you can't find a single third book out of all the hundreds on offer that you really want, so have to go for something that (as here) you dismissed last year as sounding a bit wilfully quirky, and decide to give it a go after all. Maybe not then.

William Rycroft 21 March 2008 at 21:44  

I don't like to put people off books that I don't finish, but I just have so many lovely looking books in the reading pile (including two Andrew Crumey's) that I couldn't be bothered with this one.

As for the 3 for 2 phenomenon; I once saw some fake parental advisory warning stickers(you know the type you see on CDs) in a magazine, one of which said - 'WARNING. This CD was your third choice on a 3 for 2 offer'. Need I say more.

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