By Hilary Weissman
The next book on my summer reading list will definitely be Gary Shteyngart’s newest dystopian novel Super Sad True Love Story. Maybe it is because of Erica Jong’s rave review in the July/August issue of Moment, or because I feel slightly sorry for the satirical author’s skewed sexual awakening at Oberlin College, which Jong revealed in her interview with him in the same issue, or maybe it is because his sense of humor seems to evoke that “I am so uncomfortable, but this is hysterical” feeling of a Judd Apatow film. But it is probably because I love James Franco.
If you are thinking that my last reason is irrelevant, it’s because you haven’t seen Shteyngart’s high-larious new trailer for his third novel. He uses his position as a professor at Columbia University, to which Edmund White incredulously marvels “They let him teach at Columbia? Oh my God, the poor kids,” to get the recently enrolled student Franco among other literary fixtures like Mary Gaitskill, Jay McInerney and Jeffrey Eugenides to sing his praises, kind of. From the allegations that Shteyngart has actually never read before, which allows him to write in a voice so unaffected or influenced out of pure ignorance, to his lessons on how to behave at a Paris Review Party- a seminar that Franco aptly excels in, to his failed attempts at wooing debutantes from Mount Holyoke University, this video actually made me laugh out loud.
Sure Franco has made some interesting choices in the past couple of years, like enrolling in school and becoming a writer when his acting salary is enviable, or taking a role on General Hospital when he could easily continue on his well-laid track of Oscar nominated movies like Milk and blockbusters like Spiderman and Pineapple Express. But if he tells me to read this book, then I will.
OK, so he doesn’t exactly do that, but I’ll take his participation in the video as an endorsement. “I actually haven’t read his book uh, Sad, True, whatever… but I don’t think he actually wants me to read it. Reading is not really his thing,” he deadpans. He then goes on to mention the whole “hollywood vampire” gold mine that Shteyngart supposedly wants to cash in on. So Franco, who exactly are the mythical monsters in Super Sad? Be careful with your answer, you don’t want to accidently pull a Gibson. The ever-witty Shteyngart sure knows how to build the anticipation with this trailer.