Skip to main content

Lake Success

Bookreporter.com Bets On...

Lake Success

September 2018

In Gary Shteyngart’s LAKE SUCCESS, hedge-fund manager Barry Cohen is coping --- well, actually he is not coping well at all --- with an SEC investigation and his three-year-old son Shiva’s diagnosis of autism. So what does he do? He flees town. But he does not take a private jet, helicopter or Maserati like his typical bros might. No, he jumps on a Greyhound bus after disposing of not just his black American Express card, but all of his credit cards. He also trashes his cell phone. He is a man with a plan --- to track down his college sweetheart and a time when life was simpler, leaving behind his wife, Seema, who is smart and wise (there is a difference).

The woman from his past lived in Richmond, so there he meets up with her parents, who are less than thrilled with seeing him again and even less thrilled that he is going to head to El Paso, where their daughter now lives. Cue up the score of Paul Simon’s “America” as Barry travels, except he’s not on the bus with the girl. He smooth talks his way from one adventure to the next. He surely is not in a tony zip code anymore.

Playing against the backdrop is the 2016 election. But as with all things politics, I play down this plotline, since it’s part of the story, but by no means the whole story.

At the beginning, I was not sure I was going to like this book. I took issue with Barry abandoning his son. But the pages flew by, and Shteyngart’swriting style became addictive. We quickly move from Barry to read the story from other points of view, including Seema, who has some secrets of her own. We get into the heads of a lot of people, and these shifting points of view propel the story along.

It’s sharp --- very sharp --- thought-provoking, and offers up brilliant insight into so many different people and places across the country. It looks at a lot of what is wrong, as well as what is right. I personally loathe the culture of The Street, and here I am again reminded of the bravado and boorish culture that is sustained there. Barry rises again and again.

Oh, and when you are done, you may do a search on Lake Success to learn exactly where it actually is.

Lake Success
by Gary Shteyngart

  • Publication Date: September 4, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Humor, Satire
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN-10: 0812997417
  • ISBN-13: 9780812997415