The Arty Semite

Gary Shteyngart's Star-Studded New Book Trailer

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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The nebbishy Russian-Jewish character author Gary Shteyngart has cultivated both in his books and in his public persona is back yet again in the humorous book trailer for his upcoming memoir, “Little Failure.” A bunch of Shteyngart’s friends, including James Franco, Rashida Jones and Sloane Crosley, play along with him in the video.

The premise of the narrative is that no one seems to be giving poor Shteyngart any respect. First his publishers dismiss his suggestions that his memoir be titled, “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mensch” or “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Jewness.” Then his “husband” James Franco steals his thunder by publishing an “erotic homage” called, “50 Shades of Gary,” before Shteyngart’s book hits the store shelves. (This plot point is not totally fictional; Franco’s debut novel, titled “Actors Anonymous” came out earlier this fall.)

To make matters worse, Shteyngart’s psychiatrist “Dr.” Jonathan Franzen labels him “Little Narcissist.” Finally, the author suffers total humiliation as everyone around him in a café reads and gushes over Franco’s book.

“Little Failure,” which officially drops on January 7, has received advance praise from a number of bestselling authors. Among them is Nathan Englander, who wrote, “If you, like me, have often wondered, ‘How did Gary Shteyngart get like that?,’ Little Failure is the heartfelt, moving, and truly engaging memoir that explains it all. Dr. Freud would be proud.”


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