I'm feeling a lot of kinship with Vladimir Girshkin in The Russian Debutante's Handbook. The story is reading kind of like a fantasy of mine from my younger days, combined with reflections I've been thinking about lately to do with creative effort and getting by -- sorry about the extreme incoherence, it's all sort of impressionistic at this point.
I'm wondering about the correct pronunciation of Volodya -- I think it must be "Vo-LOD-ya" but frequently when my eye lights on it, I hear "Vo-lo-DYE-a". A similar question applies to Stolovaya -- whether the accent is on LO or on VAY.
Shteyngart has the best-ever jacket photo on this book.