The Russians Were There

AWP ended with an entertaining evening, a conversation with Amy Hempel and Gary Shteyngart. The moderator was worried — what in the world could these 2 have in common, the minimalist Amy who can compact an entire story in one paragraph, and max-to-the-max Gary?

Answer: Russian ancestry, of course.

I’ve never seen either before, and almost skipped the event. But I’m glad I dragged my tired self down to the ballroom.  Amy read first. A story about volunteering at a full-service animal shelter, full-service meaning they kill on schedule. Honest to god I could barely keep it together, could have bawled like a baby. I even tried to stop listening at one point, it was that overwhelming.  A day later there are lines I wish I’d never heard, as they’ve stuck horribly with me, and I wish they hadn’t.

Gary followed and had us all laughing before he even started. I think we were so relieved to LAUGH! And he just got funnier and funnier from there. I’ve never read a Shteyngart book — Absurdistan, Super Sad True Love Story — and I don’t know if I will, but I would get out of bed at 3 a.m. and drive through a snow storm to see him read again. What an entertainer.

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2 thoughts on “The Russians Were There

  1. lisahgolden

    Another author to look for – Amy Hempel. I had Super Sad True Love Story out from the library, but didn’t get to it before it had to go back. Someone else had a hold on it.

    My first into to Gary S. was the trailer for that book. Betsy had it linked. It’s good to know he’d entertaining at a reader. His trailer was fun.

  2. Downith

    Yes, I remember that trailer, Lisa. I read an excerpt from Super Sad… in a course last term (with Carole, Teri) It was amusing, but I don’t know if I could do the whole book…but I bet he’d be entertaining at a reading. So great you got to attend this conference Teri. Thanks again for sharing the experience.

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