Today’s Word: Schadenfreude (noun) – Schadenfreude (SCHA-den-froy-duh), a German word, is a feeling of pleasure or satisfaction when something bad happens to someone else. As used by investment manager James Chanos: “I’ll always understand the Schadenfreude aspect to short-selling. I get that no one will always like it. I’m also convinced to the deepest part of my bones that short-selling plays the role of real-time financial watchdog. It’s one of the few checks and balances in the market.”
Did You Know?: People recall smells with 65% accuracy after a year but visual recall sinks to 50% after only 3 months.
Worth Quoting: “We are all born unfree and unequal, subject to our physical and psychological heredity, and to the customs and traditions of our group, diversely endowed in health and strength, in mental capacity and qualities of characters.” – Will and Ariel Durant
By Gary Shteyngart
2018, 352 pages
Lake Success is the story of Barry Cohen, a wealthy hedge fund manager who likes to believe his wealth is deserved, despite the fact that his funds have all gone belly up. You might think of him as Willy Loman selling hedge funds… or a Jewish Jay Gatsby before he comes to West Egg.
Lake Success is Shteyngart’s attempt to step beyond the realm of social satire – a genre of literary fiction that he brilliantly mastered with Super Sad True Love Story– and into Great American Novel territory. And Lake Success has all the requirements: The background is America, the protagonist is flawed, and through his journey to find himself, the reader discovers something important about the culture of the country.
Ultimately, though, I see it as a failed novel. And that’s because it lacks the one thing all GANs have: the author’s deeply felt sympathy for his protagonist.
That said, a strong recommendation from me. A failed Shteyngart novel is still a very worthy and very enjoyable read.