Gary Shteyngart — Lake Success

Random House 2019 352 pages 978-0812987201

He looked at his watch. It was a Nomos Minimatik with a champagne-colored dial. Nomos was his new thing. They were not expensive watches, they topped out at 20K, but they were made in the tiny German town of Glashütte, far from all that overpriced Swiss razzle-dazzle, and they stuck to a strict but playful Bauhaus aesthetic. The watch did its work. It calmed him. The creaminess of the dial, the great rushes of open space between the Arabic numerals, and, most important, the tiny orange second hand, a child’s hand, really, elegantly, sweeping around its little subsidiary dial, as if life were easy and bright. The watch sucked up the inhuman glow of the space around him and substituted beauty and hope. He remembered three-week-old Shiva asleep in his arms, this sweet brown rabbit, and even then he whispered through all his agnostic lapsed-Jew bullshit, “Please, God, just don’t do anything to him, okay? My sins are my own.”

“Narcissistic, hilariously self-deluded and divorced from the real world as most of us know it”, dit la quatrième de couv’ au sujet de Barry. Mais le personnage principal de Lake Success n’est que le double de Gary Shteyngart, qui se rêve en financier raté reconverti dans l’horlogerie (et possède, lui aussi, une Nomos Club Neomatik champagne).

Dépourvus de la moindre motivation un tant soit peu subtile, les personnages de Lake Success sont idiots, stéréotypés, et finalement détestables. Heureusement que Shteyngart étale sa science des montres : c’est un peu naïf, c’est gentiment ridicule, mais cela part d’un sentiment. Lake Success en manque terriblement.