Gary Shteyngart is one of the most successful and critically acclaimed literary novelists of his generation — but he isn’t just that. The New Yorker “20 Under 40″ list author is also New York literary society’s most beloved clown, the dark comic undertones of his novels extending into his public persona. Over the years, he’s exaggerated the excesses of his own personality to create for himself a bumbling, lecherous nebbish character who can’t even speak (much less read) English.
It was that character who hobbled onto the stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last night, conspicuously overdressed in a black suit with a bow tie, for a Friars Club-style roast to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Shteyngart’s debut novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook. Joined by host John Wesley Harding, his roasters included fellow authors Sloane Crosley, Kurt Andersen, and Edmund White, along with New Yorker Fiction Editor Deborah Treisman. Although, at under an hour, the program felt a bit too brief and — as Harding suggested at several moments — the ribbing was often too gentle, Shteyngart’s colleagues still managed to get in a few entertaining jokes. We’ve collected the best disses below, with apologies for excluding White’s, which were excellent but which we just couldn’t manage to transcribe because he was reading them very quickly from prepared notes.
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Most publications have an internal style guide for writers. For example, here at Flavorpill we frown upon food metaphors. Some places are much more specific. As Hugo Lindgren relays over on The New York Times Magazine’s The 6th Floor, when he was first hired at New York Magazine back in 1997, Kurt Andersen had just been fired as editor. But during his tenure, he (or presumably, one of his assistants) had created a one-page document titled “Words We Don’t Say.”
“It contained, as you might surmise, words and phrases that Kurt found annoying and didn’t want used in his magazine,” Lindgren explains. “Just yesterday, I rescued it from a bunch of old office stuff that I was throwing out, and I have to say, 14 years later, it’s still a pretty useful list of phony-baloney vocabulary that editors are well-advised to excise from stories.” Click through to check out the list of what irked Andersen, and let us know in the comments if there are certain words or phrases that you avoid.
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1. Friday Night Lights star Adrianne Palicki (aka Tyra Collette) has been cast as Wonder Woman in David E. Kelley’s pilot for NBC. We’re excited by the news, but we bet that Lyla Garrity is super jealous. [via THR]
2. Wondered what Antony Hegarty has been up to lately? Glad you asked. He’s… Read More
Today at Flavorpill, we discovered that Bruce Springsteen is not suing a New York bar. We laughed at hipster puppies — bring on the coffee table book! We remembered how much we used to love Harriet from Small Wonder. We watched Raekwon serenade Sade. We wondered who would agree to… Read More