He also created an online video "trailer," the perfect venue to exhibit his spirited, at times over-the-top personality. "Gary is quite the performer," according to Franco. "He has tons of energy, and his teaching style is animated."
In the video, which has been re-posted on a variety of websites, Shteyngart acts like a Russian peasant with a low-brow sense of humor. He affects an exaggerated accent, frolics with a dachshund and makes self-deprecating goofball comments like "I can't read!" while holding a book upside down. Authors Edmund White, Jeffrey Eugenides and others give lighthearted comments about the book. Franco appears too, pretending to teach Shteyngart how to read the cover of a Hemingway novel.
The author acknowledges that the video had nothing to do with "Super Sad True Love Story." But he wanted to convey that he doesn't take himself too seriously and, moreover, is an entertainer. As well, Shteyngart says he's driven by the motive of doing anything to get people to read.
"Once we begin to slice and dice our attention with gadgets and the Web," he says, "novels are the first to go."