Finally, a Satire of Those Ridiculous Book Trailers


Book trailers—brief videos produced by publishers to publicize their authors' product—have always seemed a dubious proposition at best. Lacking visual material from the book (because, duh, it's a book, not a movie), publishers typically have to resort to clips of the writer, the writer's friends, the book's editor, and other not-especially-camera-friendly literary types mouthing unhelpful platitudes about the work—a clear violation of the writer’s mandate to show, not tell. Nonetheless, the fad is flourishing: in May, independent book publisher Melville House hosted the first annual Moby awards for best and worst book trailer. (Tellingly, awards included "Trailer Least Likely to Sell the Book," "Most Annoying Performance by an Author," and "Biggest Waste of Conglomerate Money" alongside more complimentary categories.) It's unclear if the satiric trailer for Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story will sell any more books than any of the straightfaced, acoustic-guitar-backed trailers that have come to define what we hesitate to call a genre will, but it’s a hell of a lot more fun to watch. The conceit, that Shteyngart is illiterate, is only minorly clever, but succeeds because of the perfectly deadpan testimonials to the writer's "genius" by Mary Gaitskill, James Franco, Jay McInerney, and others. As with the most trailers, this one tells us little about whether we’d like the book, and a lot about who Shteyngart's friends are. But the fact that so many writers signed up for the spoof tells us all we need to know about how they feel about shilling for their books on YouTube.