Gary Shteyngart's is an optimistic pessimist.
His tragic and humorous 3rd novel, Super True Love Story, visualizes the future as bright, yet dimly lit. In a post-post-post-post 9/11 New York, gentrification is real and digital ranking is even realer.
It's a hilarious nightmare where adults are obsessed with youth, purchase "onion-skin jeans" and are glued to their personal technical devices (called "apparats" in the future) at bars (reads familiar right?!") .
Shteyngart's attention to detail is incredible. The novel is an example of the constant struggle between humanity and technology. In a world where information is readily available, Gary Sheyngart illustrates what might happen when we neglect one ideal for another.
Jay-Z's Decoded helps you read between the lines. His memoir details growing up in Brooklyn's Marcy projects, the effect of having an absent father and spirit of a hustler.
Most notably, the mogul explains some of the motives behind the makings of his hits and controversial lyrics. For Jay-Z, music must be put into context for it to make sense on a universal level.
It's more than just a great collection of notes and beats, everything has meaning. Even 99 Problems, which refers to an actual dog and not a woman.
In Decoded, Jay-Z discusses the makings of hip-hop culture, its present and future and offers explanations to the visual and lyrical contradictions latent in his music by theorizing music as poetry. Lastly, he paints a very different New York City -- 30 years younger and a lot tougher.
He certainly gave me a greater appreciation for the G-train.