April 18, 2013

Gary Shteyngart is getting a new toy


Whatever its use, at least we can all agree that Google Glass will be very dignified and not at all distracting.

Gary Shteyngart is being given a pair of Google Glass. It’s a fitting choice, as the characters in the author’s most recent novel, Super Sad True Love Story, stare at the world through a piece of mediating tech, an “äppärät.” Shteyngart is being given Google’s new on-face-friend-surveilling-gadget gratis as part of a trial program.

Before I get any further into this, let me just salute Google and the sheer gusto with which they are breaking our dependence on tired rules like plural nouns. Many thank, guys. Many thank.

Shteyngart asked for, and was given, the exclusive new toy over Twitter in mid-March along with a handful of others who had submitted brief ideas about what they might do with the tech giant’s new faceputer. Google has also been offering the douchedentification badges for sale to a select crowd of hand-picked early adopters. At present they run at $1500. Just this Tuesday, Google released the technical specifications for their new gleeful fruition of a thousand dystopist’s imaginations, as well as the device’s API for software developers.

Shteyngart proposed to use the somehow-even-less-sexy-than-a-bluetooth-headset device to help dream up ideas for a television adaptation of his latest novel. Which leads me to the question: which other authors should be given Google Glass, and what would they do with it?

Adam Johnson would use his to superimpose an image of a spinning Pulitzer medal over the face of everyone he talks to and/or makes out with.

Greg Mortenson would use his Glass to access the rural Pakistani school he built in Second Life while he walks down the street. That’s the same as actually building a school, right? Cool.

Jonah Lehrer would use his to take meticulously transcribed research notes for his books. Most of the time.

Joyce Carol Oates would finish a book with just her twitching eyes while she spoke to you. And another with her hands. Oates is an unstoppable monster of fiction, is my point.

Bret Easton Ellis would keep a constant feed of Twitter comments about David Foster Wallace streaming in front of his right eyeball so he could pour bilious attacks on a dead guy without even having to take his phone out of his pocket.

Mark Z. Danielewski would wear his Glass upside down because he is edgy. So edgy.

Jonathan Franzen would probably just use his to take photos of birds. Everyone needs a hobby. Nothing wrong with that. You do you, Johnny.

James Patterson would have his robo-spex tuned to simultaneously video chat with three of his ghost writers. The ghostwriters would have Glass of their own, the better to cut and paste the text from old Patterson novels.

Donna Haraway who, all joking aside, really should be sent a pair, might find them passé.

Philip Roth would just play Farmville on his, maybe read a little, Instagram his lunch.

In truth, every author would do with this new godawful status symbol what they do with all technology; endlessly procrastinate from writing.


Dustin Kurtz is the marketing manager of Melville House, and a former bookseller.