You can tell from the title of this story (in The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 summer feature issue) that this is a love story.

Of sorts. If a somewhat one-sided love-story.

Though that sounds depressing, so I hasten to say that it’s not all romancey-doom-and-gloom.

But it’s not all sweetful and hope-y either.

And while you’re getting used to the idea that the course of whatever-it-is-that-is-passing-for-love isn’t running smoothly for Lenny and Eunice, you’ll have to get your head around somewhere here-but-not-here. Or, more accurately, here-but-not-now.

“Lenny Hearts Eunice” is set in the kinda-near future. It’s kinda familiar, but different enough to set you on edge.

For instance, here’s Lenny’s workplace:
The first thing I noticed upon my return was the familiar smell. Heavy use of a special hypoallergenic organic air freshener is encouraged at Post-Human Services, because the scent of immortality is complex. The supplements, the diet, the constant shedding of blood and piercing of skin for various physical tests, the fear of the metallic components found in most deodorants make a curious array of postmortal odors, of which ‘sardine breath’ is the most benign. 97

And here’s how Eunice feels about Lenny’s foul habit of reading:
What am I doing with Lenny? What kind of freaked me out was that I saw Len read a book. (No, it didn’t smell. He uses Pine-Sol on them.) He came home from work looking really down, and I guess he didn’t even notice that I caught him reading. And I don’t mean scanning a text like we did in EuroTrash Classics with that “Chatterhouse of Parma,” I mean seriously reading.” 102-3

I’ll probably be one of the last people to read his novel Absurdistan, but this short story is the first bit that made me want to.

And, besides that, there is the novel from which “Lenny Hearts Eunice” is excerpted, Super Sad True Love Story. Uh oh, sounds like there might be more romancey-doom-and-gloom yet to come.

Have you read this or anything else of Gary Shteyngart’s?

PS Check out his Q&A here along with a link to his story.