The book trailer is a relatively new phenomenon, but innovation has quickly become the rule. Take the trailer for Gary Shteyngart’s new novel, Super Sad True Love Story, which features cameos by James Franco (a former MFA student of Shteyngart at Columbia), Jay McInerney, Edmund White, Mary Gaitskill, and Jeffrey Eugenides. It’s tongue-in-cheek, as to be expected from the author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, and contains some very funny non sequiturs – like how to blend in at a Paris Review party – and I knew virtually nothing about the book by the end.
But conveying actual information is beside the point. The trailer uses the shorthand of Shteyngart blithely jogging down the street with his dog to lure the reader. Beyond providing a commentary on the very idea of a book trailer, Shteyngart capitalizes on his potential reader’s sensibility to set up a syllogism. If you share a sense of humor with a writer, then you’ll probably like his book. You share a sense of humor with Shteyngart. You’ll probably like his book. It’s an interesting end-run around the usual mode of “now we’re going to tell you what this is about.” It worked on me, I spent time investigating his new book, and now the pub date is seared onto my brain. Does it work for you? Check out the trailer below, and let us know. Also you can find several examples of trailers on the FWR site, including some that play it a bit more straight – Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, par exemple.