Lake Success
by Shteyngart, Gary






"When his dream of the perfect marriage, the perfect son, and the perfect life implodes, a Wall Street millionaire takes a cross-country bus trip in search of his college sweetheart and ideals of youth. Myopic, narcissistic, hilariously self-deluded anddivorced from the real world as most of us know it, hedge fund manager Barry Cohen oversees $2.4 billion in assets. Deeply stressed by an SEC investigation and by his 3 year-old-son's diagnosis of autism, he flees New York on a Greyhound bus in search ofa simpler, more romantic life with his old college sweetheart, whom he hasn't seen or spoken to in years. Meanwhile, reeling from the fight that caused Barry's departure, his super-smart wife Seema-a driven first-generation American who craved a picture-perfect life, with all the accoutrements of a huge bank account-has her own demons to face. How these two imperfect characters navigate the Shteyngartian chaos of their own making is the heart of this biting, brilliant, emotionally resonant novel very much of our times"-





Gary Shteyngart is the New York Times bestselling author of the memoir Little Failure (a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist) and the novels Super Sad True Love Story (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), Absurdistan, and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (winner of the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction). His books regularly appear on best-of lists around the world and have been published in thirty countries.





*Starred Review* Shteyngart's acidly prescient novel Super Sad True Love Story (2010) looked to the near-future. This rambunctious tale of a morally challenged, on-the-run New York hedge-fund manager takes place during the incendiary 2016 presidential campaign. A deft satirist, Shteyngart revels in describing Barry Cohen's ludicrously elite environs and calculated strategies based on his belief that a hedge-fund manager must "be a storyteller first and last." Barry's anxious striving stems from his unhappy adolescence in Queens, while a vestige of his abandoned literary dreams is found in the name of his fund, This Side of Capital, a cockeyed tribute to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Barry is proud of his gorgeous, smart, younger wife, Seema, a former lawyer and the daughter of Tamil immigrants from India, as though she was a rare, priceless work of art, and he had hoped to multiply his investment with children. After IVF procedures, their son, Shiva, was born; now three, he has severe autism. Barry worships perfection; his one true passion is collecting vintage luxury watches, taking comfort in their elegance, heft, and orderliness. He cannot cope with Shiva's extreme sensitivity, and, after a terrible commotion, he flees with a suitcase full of absurdly expensive timepieces and a hazy idea about finding his college girlfriend. Abandoning his bubble of privilege and tossing out his cellphone and credit cards, he travels the country on Greyhound buses. Barry is absurdly impractical, deeply deluded, and epically selfish, but he is also omnivorously observant, gutsy, and very funny. His grimy, picaresque journey, presented with a warmhearted drollery reminiscent of that of Stanley Elkin, takes him through the South, across the Texas borderland, and on to California. Barry finds himself in intimate contact with a diverse array of characters, from the down-and-out to the stubbornly hopeful-cash-poor travelers who inspire fear, lust, humility, and a desire to do good. Which is ironic, given the slowly revealed and dismaying financial and legal trouble our hero is in. Meanwhile, Seema, who unlike her volatile, rudderless husband, is in ferocious control of herself, diligently oversees her son's team of caregivers, and conducts a desultory affair with the novel's least convincing character, a writer who serves primarily as a vehicle for Shteyngart's anemic mockery of literary and academic pandering. Shteyngart's storytelling is otherwise electric in its suspense and mordant hilarity; his characters are intriguingly and affectingly complex, and, while the action never stops, he still digs deeply into our perceptions of self and family, lies and truth, ambition and success, greed and generosity, love and betrayal, and, most touchingly, what we deem normal and how we respond to differences. Lake Success is a big, busy, amusing, needling, and outraging novel, one to revel in and argue with, a nervy and chewy choice for book discussions. And the many loaded topics it boldly addresses connect it to an array of other novels. Tom Wolfe's indelible attack on avarice and posturing, The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987), comes to mind first, poignantly enough in the wake of Wolfe's recent death. Financial analyst and corporate attorney turned novelist Cristina Alger offers a lighter, more contemporary take on Wall Street hubris in Little Darlings (2012) and The Banker's Wife (2018). Barry's escape from New York and subsequent adventures resembles a plotline in Sue Halpern's Summer Hours at the Robbers Library (2018) and key aspects of Anne Tyler's Clock Dance (2018). The raucous political milieu, dubious financial machinations, a family's fate, ties to India, and autism are also elements in Salman Rushdie's much grander saga, The Golden House (2017). Readers taken with Shteyngart's sensitive portrayal of Shiva may also appreciate young characters with autism in Ginny Moon, by Benjamin Ludwig (2017);  Harmony, by Carolyn Parkhurst (2016); and Language Arts, by Stephanie Kallos (2015). Barry "didn't know how to harvest love out of sorrow." Will he learn? Will Seema find love? What will become of Shiva? For all his caustic critique and propulsive plotting, Shteyngart is a writer of empathic imagination, ultimately steering this bristling, provocative, sharply comedic, yet richly compassionate novel toward enlightenment and redemption. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.





A hedge fund manager on the skids takes a cross-country Greyhound bus trip to reconnect with his college girlfriend, leaving his wife to deal with their autistic 3-year-old. "Barry Cohen, a man with 2.4 billion dollars of assets under management, staggered into the Port Authority Bus Terminal. He was visibly drunk and bleeding. There was a clean slice above his left brow where the nanny's fingernail had gouged him and, from his wife, a teardrop scratch below his eye." Shteyngart (Little Failure, 2014, etc.) gleefully sends Barry, on the run from troubles at work as well as his inability to face up to his son's recent diagnosis, on an odyssey that the author himself made on a Greyhound bus during the lead-up to the 2016 election, thus joining Salman Rushdie, Olivia Laing, Curtis Sittenfeld, and others with recent works set in the dawn of the Trump era. Barry is, in some ways, a bit of a Trump himself: He's from Queens, has a serious inferiority/superiority complex, has achieve d his success through means other than actual financial genius. Barry, however, is a likable naif whose first stop is Baltimore, where he uses the "friend moves" he developed in middle school to bond with a crack dealer named Javon. He leaves Baltimore with a rock in his pocket and the dream of establishing an Urban Watch Fund, where he would share with underprivileged kids his obsession with Rolexes and Patek Phillipes as a means to self-betterment. In fact, Barry has left New York with not a single change of clothes, only a carry-on suitcase full of absurdly valuable watches. And now there's that crack rock. Off he goes to Richmond, Atlanta, Jackson, El Paso, Ciudad Juarez, Phoenix, and La Jolla, the home of an ex he's been out of touch with for years. Alternating chapters visit his wife, Seema, the daughter of Indian immigrants, who's back in New York with their silent son, Shiva, and his nanny, conducting an affair with a downstairs neighbor, a successful Guatemalan writ e r named Luis Goodman (whose biographical overlap with the real writer Francisco Goldman has all the markings of an inside joke). As good as anything we've seen from this author: smart, relevant, fundamentally warm-hearted, hilarious of course, and it has a great ending. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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