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What Gary Shteyngart Can’t Live Without

Photo: Courtesy Gary Shteyngart

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. We asked Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success author Gary Shteyngart about the blue shirt, Finnish sneakers, and calendar he can’t live without.

I can’t live without my Muji calendar. Look, I know calendars exist on phones, but I really don’t know how to use them. And then I erase stuff. And my life is so majorly busy that I need to look at the big picture. Muji’s month-by-month setup lets me know everything at a glance, from appointments with my team of psychiatrists to when BoJack Horseman is ready to stream to when I can expect the next shipment of Ativan to land at my doorstep.

What would summer be without my Penguin shorts? I have no idea. They come in all sorts of different shapes and colors (although I kinda like gray) and when I put them on I feel like my existence is better somehow, like a Chekhov story about life in the country, but without the human misery.

I don’t know how much it costs, $400, $500, a million? But I got it for doing a reading at some Prada event, along with pants and a jacket and a scarf, and all of those things I still wear, over and over again. It’s very slimming, too. I want Prada to give me more stuff.

I bought these sneakers at Alife on Rivington. The salespeople there are so cool. One of them said to me, “These sneakers make you look like a drug dealer.” I was like, “I’ll take 20 pairs, please.” But they just make me feel super comfortable, like I’m walking on panna cotta.

These sunglasses I got from Persol or Luxottica or something. I don’t know. People say I look okay in them. I got them for doing a reading in Italy. Yeah, you do a reading in Italy, you get expensive sunglasses. How is that country still around?

Yeah, I drink a lot. Whattaya gonna do about it? District Distilling is the best thing that has happened to drinking in a while. They’re a small distillery out of our nation’s troubled capital, but everything they do, they do right: gin, bourbon, whisky, but especially the best rye that has ever existed. I have a six-pack of it up at my upstate dacha, and I’m drinking from two bottles at once as I write this.

I hate putting on tuxedos, they make me look like a penguin imploded inside a hairy crêpe, but this super-elegant German watch is a freaking horological masterpiece, and it makes dressing up fun. No frills, not even a seconds hand, just the hour and minute hands surrounded by a neat white-gold case. Now what did I do with that cummerbund?

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 with white dial. Right, same drill as with the Lange, but instead of going to some chicken dinner in a tux, this one’s for jumping in the pool or hanging out in my summer Penguin shorts. Worn on a bracelet, it feels nice and slightly chunky the way a Rolex should, but it’s beautiful, too, in its own quiet (for a Rolex) way.

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