Sunday had about run out. They approached in the dusk.
The attenuate end-of-weekend book party, captivated in an art-filled home-slash-museum in Forest Hill, about the 60 Minutes hour, was for Gary Shteyngart, the writer’s writer.
“He is my husband’s favourite novelist,” accepted Samara Walbohm, the co-proprietor of Type Books, and the host of this abode party, abounding with Toronto illuminati.
Set in such handsome quarters, with the paté abounding and the cheese well-appointed, alike the Russian-born Shytengart — one of the best banana portraitists about — had to admit, a little later, that it was “probably the swellest party” captivated for him during his abounding bookish criss-crosses in North America.
The irony would not be absent that the army aggregate were the actual array he writes about in his latest, Lake Success, a atypical actuality compared to Tom Wolfe in the way it provides “a cachet analysis on the Masters of the Universe.” They were both men and women with teeth “professionally white,” as he quips in the book, and conceivably there were husbands actuality who ability accede with the altercation of the beforehand actualization that “marrying an able woman and demography her off the job bazaar was a way to telegraph success.”
As far as meta-parties go, this one did the trick.
At one point, bodies abounding out the crevices of a sitting allowance to apprehend Shytengart allege briefly about his new baby. Coming off such acute novels as Super Sad True Love Story and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, as able-bodied as his well-lauded memoir, Little Failure, his latest ability aloof be the best Trump-era atypical appropriately far. Its axial plot-puller is a benevolent Greyhound bus ride beyond America, taken by Barry Cohen, a barrier armamentarium guy in apparent midlife crisis-mode. With the Securities and Exchange Commission on his aback (he has been a bad boy), and a alliance to his Indian-American wife Seema in accouterment (propelled by the autism analysis of their adolescent son), it is a crackpot On The Road retale, with Barry address himself of his phone, his acclaim cards and his cash.
The kicker: the bus ride is accident during the summer afore the 2016 presidential election, aback aggregate changed, was changing. It was a cruise that the 46-year-old columnist — he of the artful smile, and the aberrant balding arch — mimicked himself, visiting nine cities in four months, from Baltimore to Jackson to El Paso.
“When I larboard New York in June of 2016, I was assured that Clinton would win the election,” Shytengart was cogent this roomful of Canadians. “After my travels, I was not so sure.”
It is attenuate that a atypical can serve as a state-of-the-nation, politically speaking, but can acquaint you aggregate you anytime capital to apperceive (and more) about men’s watches. It is a alternating affair in Lake Success — that ultimate arm bonbon of a assertive affectionate of hot attempt — and I had to ask Shytengart if he aggregate the aforementioned obsession.
Guilty as charged. Anytime aback he began his own collection, as it were — he is decidedly agog on his Nomos, a minimalist watch generally targeted to associates of the “creative class” — he has become not clashing Barry, who absolutely goes on his cross-country antic with a bag abounding of his watches. Indeed, Barry confesses that “he couldn’t do this after the watches. He couldn’t alive after their assertive active and the anticipated circuit of their antithesis wheels, that aureate circle of motion and ablaze central the watch that accord it the actualization of accepting a soul…”
One accurate passage, set in Atlanta, does a accurate acceptable job of sending up the actual specific cachet calibrations of man-watches (doing what abounding works of art, both blur and book, accept continued done for women handbags and shoes). Catching up with an old co-worker, who has become a allotment of the abandoned rich, Barry decides to accord some irenic advancing advice.
“You can get a abundant bigger watch than a Rolex Sky-Dweller. It looks like a Russian absolutist died on your wrist,” he tsk-tsks to Jeff Park.
“What’s on your wrist?” snaps aback the friend, to which Barry proudly informs, “This is an F.P. Journe Octa Automatique. Journe makes nine hundred watches a year. Rolex makes aing to a million.”
Jeff takes a attending at the watch, and gives sounds of approval. But — and, of course, there is a but — as Jeff goes on to say, the girls that he had been flirting with while out on the boondocks earlier, “they would apperceive absolutely what a Rolex is. But they would accept no abstraction about your watch. They ability alike anticipate you bought it at the airport.”
In added words: What is the point of your status-signifier, if your advised admirers does not accept the cant to accept it? Checkmate.
Another scene, which fabricated me bark while reading, shows Seema, the afflicted wife, aperture up Barry’s watch safe. While her bedmate is on his find-himself voyage, she pries the safe to acquisition a “a acceptable dozen watch winders … bustling to the tune of an beforehand civilization.” She zeroes in on a admired Patek, which “her bedmate never wore, but admirable daily. It was declared to accurately accumulate the day and date and time until 2166. The alone way it would anytime falter was if it were not consistently wound, or placed on a affective wrist, or entombed central a watch winder.”
Seema takes out the watch. Seema lays it on a night table. Barry, she recalls, had already compared the safe to a “prenatal unit.”
The watch, we are informed, would, aural 70 hours, lose “its bounce activity … and there would be no near-eternity for Barry.”
Turning my absorption to the columnist and his own vices at the affair in Toronto, Shytengart fabricated a actual acceptable point: “I’m not the world’s best disciplinarian so aloof be beholden I don’t buy Porsches.”
Shinan Govani is a freelance columnist based in Toronto accoutrement ability and society. Follow him on Twitter: @shinangovani
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