If you’re an author of literary fiction, you’d do well to shoot fellow author Gary Shteyngart an advance copy of that soon-to-be-published masterpiece you’ve got in the pipeline. He won’t just love the book, he’ll blurb it, thus telegraphing your insider status to the establishment and readers in the know. It’s a far from an exclusive club. As author Levi Asher notes in the video above, Shteyngart’s the sort of mensch who willingly blurbs his friends. Also friends of friends. Ditto strangers. (Former stranger Karen Russell wonders if perhaps some agent-deployed fruit basket was responsible for garnering her some of Shteyngart’s “swami magic”.)
The insouciant quality of the typical Shteyngart endorsement is not intended to telegraph any insincerity on his part. His mission is securing readers for the sort of titles indie bookstores hold dear, and in order for that mission to succeed, he has to generate blurbs by the bushel. He may not get to the end of every volume he champions, but he makes it deep enough to get a general sense that such a thing might be pleasurable.
His highly public willingness to clamor aboard other authors’ bandwagons has been described as both promiscuity and performance art. It has inspired a tumblr, and now the tongue-in-cheek mini-documentary above. Narrated by Jonathan Ames, it features a cavalcade of grateful New York City-based lit stars, gamely striving to exude the sort of devil-may-care buoyancy at which their hero excels.
Thanks to Edward C. for sending this along.
- Ayun Halliday’s best known book was blurbed by Stephen Colbert.