Lipsyte Reading Recap

It was a packed house last night at Powell’s, as Sam Lipsyte read from his second novel, Home Land. He chose excerpts from the opening chapter and from further along in the book, delivering both of them with verve and great humor. I expected as much, of course, since Lipsyte’s prose had me laughing like a hyena, which sort of scared the kindly woman in a blue sweater set next to me at the coffee shop.

During the Q&A, Lipsyte revealed that he’d originally thought the epistolary form would work well in a short story, as an ironic take on those corny high school newsletters where everyone lies about their achievements. What if someone actually said the truth? But soon he found a strong voice for his anti-hero, Lewis Miner, a.k.a. Teabag, and that carried him through an entire novel.

When asked how much of the book was autobiographical, Lipsyte joked, “Only the leg warmer fetish.” (Ha!) He talked a little bit about his writing process, saying he was the kind of writer who liked to make sure he had polished one chapter before moving on to the next and that he envied those who could just plow through a draft and then revise.

Home Land almost never came out here in the States, though. The book was published in England first, and after garnering some attention there, was finally picked up by Picador. It’s the return of the prodigal son, Catamounts! (See that? I’ve been doing that since I read the book. It’s contagious. You should read it and see.)

It was a great event and I look forward to reading the short stories that Lipsyte says he’s been working on lately.