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Venus Drive

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  986 ratings  ·  90 reviews
From the peep palaces of Times Square to the cubicles of corporate America, Sam Lipsyte's stories wander a dark, comic road full of need and regret. His damaged, searching narrators deliver their reports of addiction, lust, loneliness, grief, and the doomed dream of rock 'n' roll with a sly lyricism and eerie spareness that somehow redeem them. Listen to this chorus of gal ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published May 1st 2000 by Grove Press, Open City Books (first published 2000)
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3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  986 ratings  ·  90 reviews

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Nov 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is another shorts collection where any single story in it could convince me that the guy is a genius, but I found the whole of it to be a bit less than the sum of its parts. Sort of how I felt about that Joy Williams collection, and that last George Saunders collection I read. Geniuses all, but maybe I shouldn't read their stories all in one sitting like that.

I adored certain stories where Lipsyte has all his skills in tight control around a driving purpose -- the first story, Old Soul, is
Nov 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Here's a mini-review of each of the stories collected in Venus Drive.

Old Soul

Lipsyte's poignant 30-something dream fog account of perversion, replete with the clipped sentences and hard imagery of Burrhoughs, is brought to the loser set, a sort of Bret Easton Ellis for working class New Jersey.


The narrator's pain and decay are projected out onto the old ladies of his tenement. There's desperation here, in the matter-of-factness of the 'morphine drawer' and the surrealism and wish fulfill
Mar 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Minimalist (under the mentorship of Gordon Lisch at the time) set of stories by Lipsyte. The collection is Angry, viciously funny, painfully sad and constantly surprising in concept and language. A fine sign for future brilliance, Lipsyte may work better at novel length, but don’t skip this if you’re a fan of Lipsyte or minimalist stories that mix pain and humor.
Nov 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
As I type this, my had hurts. It's being beaten by a battle axe of a headache, so my words have to be short. Venus Drive is a fantastic, yet depraved world. Many of the stories I found myself reading twice...I couldn't get enough of the world Sam creates. And you can't go wrong with a tale of white power pizza.
Chris Carithers
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sam Lipsyte takes you to some gritty underbelly where people have been roughed up just enough to be anything but mainstream in their thinking, behaviors and longings. The lingering image for me is of a kid tatted up by his babysitter - who daily comes across the lawn in her robe - covered with ink from a notary stamp from her father's desk. The boy dances naked and vaudevillian in front of his parents and the babysitter in some kind of innocent, confessional expression, liberated entirely. He's ...more
As a whole this is not my favorite from the author, but I think the last few stories in the book are the best stories in the book.
Apr 14, 2009 added it
Shelves: interviewees
Read the STOP SMILING interview with Sam Lipsyte:

Face to Face: Sam Lipsyte
by Alex Abramovich

(This interview appeared in the STOP SMILING Photography Issue)

Alex Abramovich: Let’s talk about Martin Amis. The Moronic Inferno and Money seem like Amis’ first and last words on America. Is Amis being unfair to America? Is America unfair to us?

Sam Lipsyte: I can’t say I’ve really thought about your question before. I don’t really experience the majority of my days as a negotiation between these two enti
Miles McCoy
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was assigned to read this book for one of my Writing classes this past Spring. But the class was so fast-paced (or at least, that's what I thought at the time) that I didn't get a chance to read the entire collection. I wanted to take my time reading each of these gripping tales, and I didn't think that I could give them the attention that they deserved while in the class. I was one of the only people in the class that didn't sell their books back to the book store at the end of the year. I wa ...more
Patrick Brown
Feb 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone knows by now that I'm a Sam Lipsyte superfan. I think I prefer his novels to his stories, but that might just be a general preference for me, rather than a Lipsyte-specific setting. I do like it when he digs a little bit deeper into his characters. The short story, though, really gives his prose a chance to shine, and that's what most people are reading Lipsyte for.

Favorites from this collection: "The Morgue Rollers," "Ergo, Icepick," "My Life, For Promotional Use Only," and "Less Tar.
Brien Piechos
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Probably my favorite collection of shorts from a single author I have read in the last few years. Every story is quick paced and every line keeps you on the page. You can finish this in an afternoon and still feel like you've ingested something substantial. Lipstye's prose is economical, no-stick slick, and each narrator rings as a distinct voice different from the other stories. By far the most enjoyable read for me was "My Life, for Promotional Use Only." The subject matter is dark or "street" ...more
Nov 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like Dane Martin's comics
Shelves: short-stories
Two stories in and I was ready to kind of let it disappear under the couch, but the third story: The Morgue Rollers was so good and I was so completely won over by it that it made everything okay.

The only thing is that the stories are really jokey and I'm not into jokey right now. Somehow the jokiness is balanced out with the loserdom of the characters.
Aug 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Protectors
At first glance this book might have you thinking that Lipsyte is just another of hundreds of lightweight Denis Johnson pretenders-to-status. Untrue. Let the story roll on and you'll see that Lipsyte is digging unbroken earth. These stories affected me. In particular "Admiral of the Swiss Navy". No small job.
Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Holy fuck this is depressing.

The first half of the book feels like drowning in a bog, but the second half starts to pick up a little bit and there are random bursts of sickened laughter that could probably only come from a place of madness and absurdity within you.
That's okay though, I think, since life is pretty absurd too.
Oct 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Well, Sam Lipsyte is a sick fuck, but he manages to bring you on board with him. I usually don't like the world he's in, but I still can't stop reading. He has a sense of humor about his sickness- he realizes he's sick (or the narrator does, or the world of the book does- something).
Dec 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Sam Lipsyte's book of short stories are sharp.
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Venus Drive is the hippest collection of stories I've read in many years. Funny and biting.
Feb 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
favorite short story book of alltime.
Feb 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
my thoughts on it, reading it in flight:
Jul 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I love Lipsyte!! He has a great short story in J&L Quarterly #1 you should read too. Homeland and that other book were pretty cool too. This is his best I think thus far.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I forgot my book and pulled this off the shelf at work. At first I thought it was going to be garbage, but it is a well written punch in the face. Full of characters that if you do know them in real life, you probably want them out.

Most of the main characters of each short story are heroin addicts, spineless creatures faking their way through office jobs and life. "You have to keep something between yourself and the truth of yourself or you're dead, was how I figured it. Still do."
Laura Hart
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Really quick read. Was underwhelmed by the collection as a whole, and I don’t really believe this is my sort of “thing.” I did enjoy “The Beautiful Game,” “The Wrong Arm,” and “Tar,” but the other stories were too brutal for my taste. I think each story was well written, and I often noticed the “ferocious wit and surprising empathy” that Robert Stone mentioned, but more often than not I found myself searching for something else in the story. But perhaps that’s the point.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Quick read.
Funny, not so much.
Some Home Land characters made an appearance
I’ve got 2 more Lipsyte books on my shelf that I intend to read so that must mean his writing has me hooked just a little.
James Hastings
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's been a whilensince I read any of Sam Lipsyte's work, and I forgot how dark, funny, and ultimately grim he can be. A great reminder of how good your life is, and how terrible it could be if fate takes a bit of a turn.
Jonathan Gruber
Jan 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
so much worse than his other books/story collections - almost like he is a different writer. Definitely a misfire
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
I guess I am not hip enough to get into the contemporary angst of these characters. I was bored.
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just what I like to read: dark, twisted realities spun around characters that remind me of people in my small, ho-dunk town. Everyone has a secret. But in this short story collection, we see what happens when your little secrets become a bigger part of your daily life. Sam Lipsyte's characters have gotten to the point where they no longer question why they do what they do. They just exist in this world. And we get to see snippets of what they've become...

Each story is great in its own right, and
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I came to Sam Lipsyte after hearing him on a live WTF podcast with comedian Marc Maron. The two are friends so the conversation was loose and funny, nostalgic and slightly dark. I said to myself, if Sam Lipsyte's writing is anything like who he is in conversation, I'm really going to enjoy this.

I picked up Venus Drive as an introduction and was not disappointed. The stories are dark but funny. I wouldn't be the one to say laugh out loud because I have a tendency to focus too much on the negativ
Chris Ruggeri
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the promotional quotes on the back cover of Lipsyte's collection of short stories strikes a chord with me. James Hannaham from The Village Voice notes, "It's fascinating to read a writer who can bring you so efficiently to such uncomfortable places."

Efficiency is an idea I can latch onto when thinking about Venus Drive. Each of Lipsyte's stories clock in at a lean sub-20 pages, yet the descriptions within paint characters and settings that make you feel as if you've been living with them
Daniel Perry
Often shocking in subject matter, and super-tightly written - Gordon Lish edited this - Venus Drive calls to mind Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son and a little less, that other Lish pupil, Raymond Carver. Where the stories succeed is in the level of detachment the narrators maintain from the depraved events of their lives, but in a lot of cases, I wasn't quite swept up in the story - shocked, yes, but not invested, not breathlessly waiting for the outcome.

For me, winners in the set include "Admiral o
Marco Kaye
Jul 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This collection of stories reads like a slap to the face. It’s aggressive, jet dark, and, at times, very funny. Jonathan Ames sums it up best saying the stories, “make you wince, they make you look away, and then they make you look back.”

There are a lot of standout stories, but my favorite was “Admiral of the Swiss Navy,” about a very fucked up summer camp.

Just as Van Morrison set his Astral Weeks around Cypress Avenue, a street called Venus Drive becomes a geographic reference point, making a
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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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“It was early, late, lockjaw hour.” 2 likes
“You think everyone will stay behind and do everything you did all over again, forever. You picture old geezers in jean jackets doing whip-its behind the plaza.” 0 likes
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