Sam Lipsyte @ McNally Jackson Books
I’m trumping my laziness and ignoring my backlog of insults. I met Sam Lipsyte at McNally Jackson last night.
He stared me down. He blankfaced me like I’d picked the dumbest fucking idea in the world out from between my teeth and flicked it on his lapels. And what was I even doing here, coughing out some stumbledrunk idea about insults. Plus, I had bad breath. Shit breath. Gargling turds and talking nonsense, why didn’t I just go home? Why didn’t I go to yoga instead? In the 20 seconds it took to mumble my usual introduction with decreasing volume and enthusiasm, I’d decided to run away on the opening lip-twitch of rejection like some frightened base runner going on the pitcher’s first twitch.
It wasn’t the reaction I’d expected, the blank look. It was theretofore inconceivable that Sam Lipsyte would be the type to spurn my insult. His books are the off-beat, dark kind of funny that’s right in my wheelhouse. This is the guy I’d loved like a literary Happy Meal during my toddler days of seeing myself as a capital-W Writer. Home Land was the book to pass along to friends I’d made in English and creative writing classes to prove my literary hipness. It proved I was the type of reader/Writer who of course read the classics and requisites fed to me but also found good books by looking. I sensed that his prose reflected back on me; by being the one to “find” his book — and it is a damn good book — it was somehow an affirmation of my taste, and by association, my skill as a writer. I got more traction in the undergrad literary scene out of Home Land, Hanif Kureshi’s Buddha of Suburbia, and my fake understanding of Barthelme than I had any right to.