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Home Land

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  2,751 ratings  ·  385 reviews
What if somebody finally wrote to his high school alumni bulletin and told...the truth! Here is an update from hell, a brilliant work from novelist Sam Lipsyte, whom Jeffrey Eugenides calls original, devious, and very funny and of whose first novel Chuck Palahniuk wrote, I laughed out loud---and I never laugh out loud.

The Eastern Valley High School Alumni newsletter, Catam
Paperback, 229 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Picador USA (first published February 16th 2004)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  2,751 ratings  ·  385 reviews

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Just like those ubiquitous Christmas newsletters that seem like so much bragging where you only ever hear about the GOOD THINGS that happen, relentlessly cheery alumni newsletters are only telling you HALF the story. I mean, not everybody can turn out to be a big success after graduation, right? Each class has to have some losers.

Meet Lewis Miner, aka "Teabag." Still hanging around town. Still single. Still marginally employed.

And now he's telling it like it is in the Catamount Notes alumni news
May 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
The waste of talent on display here makes me angry. Lipsyte has chops for weeks, but he uses them not to tell a story, or create actual characters, but to show off, and show off, and show off. The dialogue is snappy. The setups are unique. The anguish is convincing. But Lipsyte cares so little about his characters that it's impossible to keep them straight, much less feel anything when their heads get bashed in with maces. And he cares even less about story. Page after perfectly calibrated page ...more
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
If brevity is the soul of wit, then pithiness is the essence of satire.

Sam Lipsyte has the chops. He can definitely write - his dialogue is sharp, his prose is snappy and yes, he can elicit true LOL moments like few other authors. But holding together an epistolary satiric tour de force for 220 pages is like watching your favorite stand-up comedian do a 7 hour set. The center won't hold, and when all of the characters have similarly brilliant and hilarious rejoinders, something's got to give.

I a
Jun 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovable losers
There are two kinds of readers in this country: those who know that Sam Lipsyte is the funniest writer of his generation and those who haven’t read him yet.

Lipsyte’s new novel Home Land is the epistolary tale of Lewis Miner, aka Teabag, a freelance writer of bogus FunFacts and self-appointed chronicler of the strange fates that have befallen the Catamounts of Eastern Valley High. The novel is written as a series of updates to the alumni newsletter, but in Lipsyte’s capable hands the form is fle
Krok Zero
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spring-2010
God damned brilliant.

I wish there were more books like this--literary comedies that are at once laugh-out-loud funny, phraseologically intricate, and resonant on the level of the emotions and the psychology and the whatnot. Let's face it, Catamounts: most good writers aren't funny, and most funny people couldn't write a novel any more than some non-funny schmo like me could.

But this guy Sam Lipsyte, damn. He is the total package. And in Home Land, he's written a book that kinda needed to exist.

Aug 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Lipsyte is a master of the sentence. Like his fellow Lish-learned sentence experts (Gary Lutz, Barry Hannah, Dawn Raffel, Noy Holland, etc, etc, etc), Lipsyte pays extreme attention to the cadence, sounds, and layers of meaning in his language. When reviewing Home Land, one has the urge to simply create a list of the many wonderful lines between its covers. But that would not fairly represent the other most impressive quality of Lipsyte's prose: its humor. And this is where Lipsyte stands apart ...more
Apr 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-enjoy
Well, Catamounts, I cannot say why I finished this book. Perhaps it had to do with the length or sheer stubborness, or perhaps because I was proscratinating to avoid the steaming turdpile of work I needed to do. Or perhaps it was destiny, that horrible sense that I couldn't do anything but finish this book.

And if you liked that brief review, you will love this book, especially if you mentally edit my brief review to contain a great deal of profanity, masturbation references, and dope-smoking - b
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
There were times I actually laughed OL. That’s really saying something when a book can do that to a middle-aged guy on a commuter train before his second cup. Every other page had something to smile at, whether it was self-mocking slacker wisdom or just plain funny ways of putting things. (E.g., Each of us walks to the beat of a different drummer. It’s just that some of these drummers suck.) You don’t read something like this for its plot, but the wry snippets and acerbic social scrutiny made fo ...more
Aug 12, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: bailed-on-it
Well, it's been awhile since my last "bailed-on-it" offering. Guess it was time.

This book got so many great reviews (including one from Chuck Palahniuk), and the premise of it sounded amusing. It wasn't.

Remember that guy in high school who was, yes, intelligent, but never really quite fit in? You saw him at the 5 year reunion and he had this major chip on his shoulder surrounding those high school days. Another several years and a few more reunions later, that chip has turned into the Rock of Gi
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Does this apply to our times? "Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach him to corner the market on fish and be thankful for the small acts of philanthropy he may perform while depriving most of the world of fish."
Biting, gleeful and self-deprecating humor shoulder the load of a deep and honest examination of life in America circa now. Employing a technique that frames the novel as a series of submissions to that most vainglorious and banal of publications, the Class Notes' section of a high
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Homeland is Sam Lipsyte at his most baroque twisted hilarity. An epistolary novel straight from hell (I’m pretty sure no one was worried about that form, but is in fine health here if you can call any of this healthy) this features some eccentric ranting and raving, you will love and fear Lewis “Teabag” Miner and his Classmates (“Catamounts”). This is a satire featuring a lot of emotion along with its rage and blistering wit and an unusually strong set of characters and remains stylistically fre ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jun 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
I dunno. I've really liked other books by Sam Lipsyte, but I found this one repetitive and frustrating. I may have just not been in the right place for it, but I won't be going back. One friend recommended that I *not* read it, and she was right! I swear the author has made me laugh though. Try The Fun Parts or The Ask instead of this one. ...more
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-of-2018
Twisted and flawed, but still bright and entertaining. Like all the truths you always wished to speak to people you despised. Including yourself.

Lewis is the kind of narrator you want to hate because he's a bit of a creep. But he'd probably say that you were too so who are you to judge. And of all the unlikeable characters, he somehow manages to be the least so.

A short, light read well worth the time.
May 24, 2010 rated it liked it
One of my flaws as a reader is that when I pick up a book that's touted as being side-splitting, hilarious, etc., I spend the first 40-50 pages finding everything about it that's not funny, thinking about how the jokes aren't working, and generally just not enjoying myself. I can't explain why I do this, although I do think a lot of allegedly funny authors just are not funny at all.

Point is, it took a while before I started laughing, because some of the attempts at humor just seem so badly stra
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
I was really excited to read this book because the reviews all mentioned the off-the-wall narrative and hilarious point of view. And that aspect of the novel didn’t disappoint. But, otherwise I wasn’t crazy about this book. Maybe it was because not only could I not relate to the main character, Lewis Miner, AKA Teabag, but I didn’t like him at all.

Lewis is writing nonsensical, ridiculous and often offensive class notes for this high school’s newsletter. Of course they are not being published, so
Jim Leckband
Jun 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Very funny book of a slacker in a northeastern suburb a few years after his high school graduation. The chapters are ostensibly his contributions to the Alumni Newsletter. These chapters of his life as he lives it and the characters he has surrounded himself with would never be printed in said newsletter as they are so over-the-top.

The hilariousness/sadness of this is reflected in the title of the book "Home Land". (I'm a sucker for ferreting out the larger significance in the naming of a book).
Aug 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
i don't know if i'm just over holden caulfield or if sam lipsyte was only half paying attention when he wrote this. the blurbs on the inside cover make the comparison to salinger and it's easy to see why. there is absolutely no denying that lipsyte is smart, talented and can write some snappy dialoge, pinning down all the angst and horrible funny things that can happen in a day, or a lifetime. Lewis Miner,a.k.a. Teabag is supposed to be that lovable asshole. the guy that tells the truth, even wh ...more
Ryan Chapman
Jan 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
It's an unbeatable comic premise: Lewis Miner, aka Teabag, writes a series of updates to his high school alumni newsletter not to brag about his latest promotion or recent marriage, but to provide shockingly honest diatribes on how he "did not pan out." He writes with a sort of exhilarating looseness of language, a Humbert Humbert with not enough ambition and too much weed, that matches his outsized delusions of grandeur.

And while parts of the book are truly hilarious, the conceit is barely mai
May 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lit-fic, humour
Oh! I REALLY liked this book! It was very original and had such a strong narrative presence! Though it was pretty dark, and rather bitter, it amounted to a surprisingly hysterical book. I found it really funny - though a bit disgusting in parts. I hope that my fiance will read this because the whole time I read it, I kept thinking of how he would find this even funnier than I did. The book had many great lines and was just terrific! I think that anyone who went to a public school in the suburbs ...more
Sep 25, 2007 rated it liked it
There are parts of this book that convinced me that Lipsyte is a genius, that's how funny it can be. But I found that halfway through, I had zero interest in the story at all, and was reading solely for the jokes (The good news is that there are a lot of amazing jokes). The end salvaged a lot of that for me, the final rant is hilarious and pointed, and the final chapter managed a degree of actual human sadness that I liked. ...more
John Blumenthal
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
I loved the concept behind "Home Land" -- a down-and-out alumnus of a high school writes bulletins to his high school newsletter, mocking and insulting fellow students as well as the administration, especially the principal, and details the dismal failure of his life. The style of the writing is hip and funny. But there's' no plot and the narrator is way too relentlessly whiny and cynical. As a result, I just couldn't finish it. ...more
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
The conceit here is very promising -- a burnout starts writing realistic letters to his high school alumni bulletin and tells stories, in real time, of his interactions with former classmates. But after a while it got tiresome, the malaise of a overweight, white, 30 year old suburban fuckup becomes repetitive, and the satire isn't absurd enough to carry it through. Lewis starts out as a lovable protagonist, but by the end of the book, the reader is just as annoyed with him as everyone else is. ...more
Sep 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Line by line Lipsyte is obscene, snarky, exact, and brilliant. He throws out spot-on observations and acidic one-liners at a positively indecent rate. His short stories and articles play to his strengths; he can blaze away and quit while he's still ahead. Not so in a novel, alas. Plotting has never been Lipsyte's strong point, hence the crushing feeling of reading the same chapter several dozen times. ...more
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Homeland by Sam Lypsyte raises the question, for me at least, of whether it is wise to be part of a reading group. I would not have read this novel if it weren't proposed by the guy who had the choice of what we'd take up next, and after fifteen pages I began considering whether I should stop reading the book and stop going to the reading group altogether.

To take the latter point first--droping out of the reading group--I should note that I am a particular reader who does his best to find good b
Mar 16, 2021 rated it it was ok
The narrator’s nickname is Teabag. And that about sums up why this book is not for me.
Anne McAneny
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's told from the perspective of a former, somewhat bullied high school boy who, at age 30 or so, is sending updates to his high school newsletter. The honesty (or total fabrication -- one never knows) of the updates is refreshing and hilarious. If not for the comedic aspect, it might come across as sad, but Sam Lipsyte knows exactly how to deliver the right balance of self-deprecation from the protagonist, as well as make us appreciate his astute observations and high level ...more
Dara Salley
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
I almost gave this book 3 stars. 2.5 would be the ideal rating. What I didn’t like about this book was the writing style. It just didn’t speak to me. From a dispassionate standpoint I could see that the writing was skillful, but I still didn’t enjoy it. What I did like about this book was that it was about a failed and disappointed life. I enjoy reading about people whose lives didn’t turn out the way they wanted them to. I think it’s truer than an uplifting story. It’s possible that this book w ...more
Jan 09, 2008 rated it did not like it
This book focuses on a loser ten years removed from high school, and his struggle with drugs and not having any life ten years later. The principal of his school and former members of his graduating class form the rest of the main characters. The prose is told as a series of fictional letters to the school alumni bulletin, but is just a different take on conventional first-person memoir narratives. As a strung-out loser, the prose ranges from longwinded rants about nothing to surreal wordplay (R ...more
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rounding up from 3.5 on account of the excellent final chapter. This book is demented, ridiculous, over the top, at times painfully overwritten. It's also fucking hilarious. Best read in spurts - there's only so much bitterly dark humor one can reasonably handle in one sitting - Homeland delivers some exceptional insight on the human condition. Lewis "teabag" Miner may be one of the most depraved and miserable protagonists this side of Ignatius Reilly, but I'll be damned if he didn't have me nod ...more
Jul 26, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2007
i really should have known better than to pick this book up, given that its most fervent admirers compared it to a confederacy of dunces, which i hated. i think i've lost my ability to browse for books, though. the reason i found myself with nothing to read was that i was down to only one book request at the library. when i went to get some new things to read i ended up wandering the stacks, wondering how i ever found good books to read by myself. in desperation, i picked up anything i remembere ...more
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Sam Lipsyte was born in 1968. He is the author of the story collection Venus Drive (named one of the top twenty-five book of its year by the Village Voice Supplement) and the novels The Subject of Steve and Home Land, winner of the Believer Book Award. Lipsyte teaches at Columbia Universitys School of The Arts and is a 2008 Guggenheim Fellow. He lives in Manhattan.

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