Book Title: All the Sad Young Literary Men
Author: Keith Gessen
Category: fiction: general
This novel is another that I purchased while in vacation in California. I bought it in a small bookshop on the main street of Sausalito, I was drawn to the blurb on the back of the book.
…charts the lives of Sam, Mark, and Keith as they overthink their college years, underthink their love lives, and struggle to find a semblance of maturity, responsibility, and even literary fame. At every turn, at each character’s misstep, the novel radiates with comedic warmth and biting honesty…
I didn’t like it at all. The book was not what I was expecting, and not at all as amusing or interesting as I thought it would be. I too am in my early twenties, attempting to find my way in the world after college, and I thought this book would be an entertaining looking-glass through which I might find some similarities or reflections on life. But it really was just sad people going about their lives without any spark.
The story was told through the perspectives of three main characters, through first person narratives. The characters were almost indistinguishable from each other. One was obsessed with Russia (or was this because he was Russian?), another with Israel, and another with the daughter of the former Vice President. I spent most of the story trying hopelessly to distinguish these characters apart from each other.
But it was the one character’s relationship with the daughter of the ex Vice President that I found to be most confusing. The novel is fiction. But several events have been taken straight out of the headlines. While the author never mentions Al Gore by name, it is apparent that that’s who he’s talking about. The events of the 2000 American Election are described. But so is a relationship between one of the characters and the daughter of the Vice President. The character has a different name than any of the daughters of the real Al Gore, but he has real daughters who went to Harvard at the same time as this fictional daughter (I looked it up), so I found it a rather jarring element of fictionalized nonfiction. I didn’t get the reasoning behind it.
Overall, not a book I would recommend.