Ranking the Celebrity Cameos in Gary Shteyngart’s Book Trailer (Spoiler: James Franco Is Not Number One)


Living as we do, in the age of the book trailer, it was only a matter of time before the form really took off and the worlds of literature and Hollywood collided. Well, boom, you guys. Boom! Today was the launch of Gary Shteyngart’s trailer for his upcoming memoir, Little Failure, and it features no less a Hollywood literary renaissance man than James Franco! But Franco isn’t the only celebrity appearing in support of Shteyngart. Let’s take a look at who else appears in what is possibly the only probably the best book trailer we’ve ever seen, despite it containing one of the lamer Canada jokes we’ve ever heard. Because, seriously? A-boot? This country gave us Joni Mitchell! Show some respect.

#6: Thessaly La Force & Sloane Crosley

La Force is the Culture Editor at Vogue and Crosley is the author of I Was Told There’d Be Cake, and both are the kind of inside baseball, New York lit-world cameos that you’d expect from Shteyngart. They only rank last because they’re not quite as recognizable as the rest of the luminaries in the trailer, but who cares about being recognizable when you get to say things like, “His prose is both locavore and artisanal”?

#5: David Ebershoff

Ebershoff is both a writer and editor—in fact, he’s Shteyngart’s editor, which makes his role all the funnier. We know it probably didn’t play out this way, but we’d love to imagine that when Ebershoff questioned Shteyngart about what the name of his memoir would be, Shteyngart did in fact suggest Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mensch and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Jewness. Hey, it could have happened!

#4: Rashida Jones

Jones appears alongside Eberhoff as they steer Shteyngart toward an appropriate name for his memoir. And because Jones is a beautiful, rule-breaking moth, she alone can tell Shteyngart why his memoir needs to be titled Little Failure. You see, it’s because he’s small of stature. And because he’s a failure.

#3: James Franco

Franco plays Shteyngart’s husband and literary competition. It was Franco’s memoir (50 Shades of Gary) and not Shteyngart’s that Thessaly La Force claims totally captured the zeitgeist. Franco spends his scene in a pink bathrobe that looks as cozy as most pink, fuzzy things do. Which is to say, very. And Franco is supportive of Shteyngart, telling him, “Look, I don’t think of you as a failure, and I certainly don’t think of you as little.” Which is nice! Franco is a nice supportive husband, one who only published his 50 Shades because he wanted “the world to celebrate [their] erotic journey.” How sex positive!

#2: Alex Karpovsky

We’re maybe biased, because we think Karpovsky is great, and also because we already knew he was friends with Shteyngart. He even gets writing advice from him. But Karpovsky is pretty great as a surly coffee shop employee (talk about type-casting) who is immersed in the Franco memoir and charges Shteyngart $13 for a cup of coffee. Ha ha, get it? Coffee is expensive. Still though, he’d definitely be our favorite if it wasn’t for one more cameo.


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