I just finished reading Absurdistan, a brilliant, epic satire that follows our obscenely fat anti-hero, one Misha Vainberg, through his idealized life in the United States, his exile to Russia, and accidental involvement in the civil war of the the fictional post-Soviet Republika Absurdsvani.
Satires are hard to read – and even harder to write – but Absurdistan hit all the right notes. Our anti-hero and his anti-heroic friends never fall completely into caricature, and its hilarity only underscored how true – and how sad – the author’s observations. Two of my favorite “truths” below:
“See the, way ‘Absurdsvani’ is pronounced and spelled, it’s utterly impossible for an American to feel anything for it. You have to be able to use a country as a child’s first name to get anywhere. Rwanda Jones. Somalia Cohen. Timor Jackson. Bosnia Lewis-Wright. And then you got this Republika Absurdsvani. Hopeless.”
“At Accidental College, we were taught that our dreams and our beliefs were all that mattered, that the world would eventually sway to our will, fall in step with our goodness, swoon right into our delicate white arms…And it wasn’t just Accidental College. All over America, the membrane between adulthood and childhood had been eroding, the fantastic and the personal melding into one, adult worries receding into a pink childhood haze. I’ve been to parties in Brooklyn where men and women in their mid-thirties would passionately discuss the fine points of The Little Mermaid or the travails of their favorite superhero. Deep inside, we all wished to have communion with that tiny red-haired underwater bitch. We all wanted to soar high above the city, take on the earthly powers below, and champion the rights of somebody, anybody.”