Q&A with Sam Lipsyte discussion

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message 1: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Looking forward to your questions/comments on The Ask (or whatever you like). I'll be checking in regularly til about March 26th.


message 2: by David (new)

David Mclendon | 1 comments Hey Sam, where can I view your tour dates? Will you hit Chicago or anywhere in Michigan?


message 3: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Chapman (chapmanchapman) | 1 comments Hey David, he's touring with The Ask: A Novel at these spots.

-Ryan


message 4: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
I'll also be at the Highline Ballroom at an event for The Rumpus on April 6th. I'd love to go to Chicago and Michigan, but so far nothing has been worked out. A few books (and publishers) ago I remember asking the publicist about Chicago, and she said, "Not a book town." Which kind of made me gasp. It also reminded me of that scene in Spinal Tap when the Boston show gets canceled and their manager tells them not to worry, it's not a big college town.


message 5: by Deb (new)

Deb | 1 comments Sam, hooray!
here's a question: which comes first for you, sound or story? Do you hear the sentences first -- along with all that amazing alliteration -- or do you see what the character is doing first and write to that image?


message 6: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 1 comments Hey Sam,
Thanks for stopping by to do this. I'm curious about what role you see sexual perversion playing in your books. Your characters often have a predilection for the obscure when it comes to matters of the flesh. Often, it seems, sexuality as the center of your characters' failings. Do you see the two as being somehow inherently connected?


message 7: by Joshuacitrak (new)

Joshuacitrak | 1 comments Cleveland, that's your town Sam. "Big bottom, big bottom, talk about mud flaps my girl's got em"


message 8: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Deb wrote: "Sam, hooray!
here's a question: which comes first for you, sound or story? Do you hear the sentences first -- along with all that amazing alliteration -- or do you see what the character is doing f..."


Hi, Deb! I think they are both present at the beginning, but I don't know what the story is yet. It's walled up and I'm trying to find some sounds, some sentences, to bust it out. Or maybe it's like the sculptor and the block of stone. Or maybe there is no good analogy. When I just have some weird-sounding sentences that are not pushing toward something, it feels dead to me. And when I just have some neat little story I heard somewhere, or even made up, but no way to make it sing, the whole enterprise feels pointless. So they need to start sparking each other fairly soon to know I might be onto something


message 9: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Patrick wrote: "Hey Sam,
Thanks for stopping by to do this. I'm curious about what role you see sexual perversion playing in your books. Your characters often have a predilection for the obscure when it comes to..."


Patrick,
That's a very interesting question. Somebody recently told me he thought that sexual perversion had turned into food perversion in the new book. He might be onto something. Because really, what is sexual perversion these days? We all have our niche delights, no? Everything consensual is tolerated. Whereas with food, you have to be careful or you will come under moral censure. But back to your question: As I said, I don't think the sexual travails of some of my narrators are at the center of what ails them, but these experiences are often seized upon by the narrators as ready symbols or illustrations of their failed (though often brave)attempts at spiritual and emotional deliverance. But of course I could be wrong. I am reminded of Case 99 (I believe) in Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, where a young man could only find satisfaction with gentlemen sporting certain kinds of facial hair above the upper lip. But when one of his lovers revealed, in a single peel-away flourish, a fake mustache, the young man went permanently insane. Why I am reminded of this I am not certain. Perhaps in the exactitude of their desires some of these characters don't understand the deep joy and immediacy sex can bring. Even their fantasies are front-loaded with a certain amount of sorrow and disappointment, or fear, perhaps, that the "mustache" could be a ruse of spirit gum and animal fur.


message 10: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Joshuacitrak wrote: "Cleveland, that's your town Sam. "Big bottom, big bottom, talk about mud flaps my girl's got em""


Joshua,
Thanks for the Spinal Tap call back! I'm glad to hear good things about Cleveland, because I will be there for a nearly a week this July, at Cleveland State's Imagination Conference.
Best,
Sam


message 11: by Peter (new)

Peter Knox (peterknox) I loved your Flavorpill tour of Astoria, having lived there almost 4 years. I love that neighborhood. And that Tastee Corner was my diner!

http://flavorwire.com/76443/a-walking...


message 12: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "I loved your Flavorpill tour of Astoria, having lived there almost 4 years. I love that neighborhood. And that Tastee Corner was my diner!

http://flavorwire.com/76443/a-walking......"


Thanks, Peter! It was fun to go back there and look around. I love it as well.


message 13: by Peter (new)

Peter Knox (peterknox) Thanks for responding, Sam! You had guest lectured my senior lit class at Washington College, in Maryland, back in 2006, through a connection with our prof, Ben Anastas and we had a lot of fun discussing Home Land.

I'm very excited for this new book and will be at the McNally Jackson event tonight and possibly more NYC events (Like the Knitting Factory one and maybe either the Rumpus or Joe's Pub event). Looking forward to all of it. Congrats and keep the press rolling in. Thanks for connecting on here.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Hey, Sam!

First off, it's awesome that you are doing this Q&A.

My question is this: What do you think about the current literary scene (although I hate using scene to refer to it) and the work that is appearing in small presses and lit journals? A lot of people are lamenting the death of literature, but I think it is alive, exciting, and thriving in a kind of under-the-radar way at the moment.

Thanks for all your great work. The Ask was beyond excellent.


message 15: by Krok Zero (new)

Krok Zero | 1 comments First of all, as a Chicagoan I'm deeply offended by that publicist's remark about Chicago not being "a book town." That's complete bullshit. I hope you do make it out here at some point for an event.

Now my question. I felt like Home Land, excepting one or two minor details, could have been set at any point during the past 30 years, and more or less anywhere in America. But The Ask I feel is very specific to our present moment in 2010, and to New York as well. Did you consciously want to write a sort of way-we-live-now novel, or did the more specific setting just grow out of your ideas for the story? It seems like there's some trenchant observation about contemporary culture on every page.

I also wanted to ask about the similarities between "Teabag" and Milo in the new book. It seems like if Teabag had turned out to be moderately successful, with a wife and kid and a college degree, instead of a complete failure, he'd basically be Milo. Do you agree?

Thanks, and thanks for writing. I love your style and appreciate your project to write literature that is meaningful and hilarious at the same time.


message 16: by Ravi (new)

Ravi | 3 comments Sam,

I've heard you on Marc Maron's podcast and read some of your other interviews, and you've mentioned that you tend to start writing after mulling over a particular phrase or sentence for awhile.

I was wondering which particular sentence was this for The Ask? Does it usually end up on the first page, e.g. "America... was a run-down demented pimp," for The Ask, and "I did not pan out," for Home Land? Or were these written last maybe?

Thanks, Sam, love your stuff.


message 17: by Sacha (new)

Sacha (sachazscoblic) | 2 comments Sam,

Home Land was revelatory. It was transgressive and bat-shit hilarious. I'm curious about your process. Do you set goals and word counts and deadlines? Or does your voice just rush out in a kind of manic explosion? How prepared are you vis a vis plot and what you want to accomplish in any given chapter before you sit down to write?

Can't wait to read The Ask!
-Sacha


message 18: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Jarrid wrote: "Hey, Sam!

First off, it's awesome that you are doing this Q&A.

My question is this: What do you think about the current literary scene (although I hate using scene to refer to it) and the wor..."


Hey, Jarrid,
I'm in complete agreement. Book culture and book selling have changed drastically, but there is real stuff happening in journals, both print and online. I see good fiction and poetry and also smart criticism and conversation all over the place. Maybe it's better that it bubble under the surface for a while.

Sam


message 19: by Brent (last edited Mar 17, 2010 09:54AM) (new)

Brent Legault (mcnab) | 1 comments Hi, Sam.

Thank you for making a book (The Ask) that wiped a smile on my face and tore laughter from my lungs while I to-ed and fro-ed between work and home. I felt, for a few days at least, that I finally fit in with the other bus-mutterers and bus-mumblers, which is all I've ever wanted from this world -- to belong. Furthermore, as I sat and dreamt between chapters, I could imagine we (my fellow travelers and I) were part of the perfect book club, one where my joy of reading is never tarnished by political symbolists, gender doctrinists, imperilist impresarios or red wine staining the carpet.

Sam, please forgive my effusive hyperbole, but your words are giving new life to a dead tongue. If "literature" is in a coma then you are its fluttering eyelids, its gurgling gut, its whispering when no nurse is near to hear it.


message 20: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Krokodil wrote: "First of all, as a Chicagoan I'm deeply offended by that publicist's remark about Chicago not being "a book town." That's complete bullshit. I hope you do make it out here at some point for an even..."

Krokodil wrote: "First of all, as a Chicagoan I'm deeply offended by that publicist's remark about Chicago not being "a book town." That's complete bullshit. I hope you do make it out here at some point for an even..."

Well, I was offended on your behalf. Some of my best friends are from Chicago and it's a book town to them.

Thanks for the kind words about my writing.

I think by writing about a real place this time (Queens, etc.) instead of the made-up New Jersey town of the last book, I certainly was inviting a kind of stricture on how I could render setting, but I liked the challenge. I started The Ask about the time Home Land came out, so I didn't know what 2010 would look like, but I did want to write about a character with economic burdens like the kind Milo endures. The scope of his predicament seemed to change with the last few years of collapse. I guess I never saw Milo as an older Teabag in an alternate universe, but I understand your point. They both rely on language to save them from utter despair. Maybe they are cousins.


message 21: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Ravi1187 wrote: "Sam,

I've heard you on Marc Maron's podcast and read some of your other interviews, and you've mentioned that you tend to start writing after mulling over a particular phrase or sentence for awhil..."


Thanks so much. That bit about America was there from very early on. But putting it in the mouth of the character Horace opened the whole section up.


message 22: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Ravi1187 wrote: "Sam,

I've heard you on Marc Maron's podcast and read some of your other interviews, and you've mentioned that you tend to start writing after mulling over a particular phrase or sentence for awhil..."


Oh, and as far as Home Land is concerned, that first paragraph was the first thing I ever wrote for that book, so yes, it all springs from "I did not pan out." I guess the rest of the book is an illustration of that declaration.


message 23: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Scott wrote: "Sam,
I don't have a question, but given the opportunity, just wanted to say that The Subject Steve and Home Land were both brilliant and I will definitely read your new one."


Thanks, Scott. Hope you enjoy it.


message 24: by Sam (last edited Mar 17, 2010 09:53AM) (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Jeremiah wrote: "Sam
As a fond admirer of your early career, I know that rock music and it's accompanying attitude (an endangered species perhaps?)are an obvious influence. Have you ever heard of the band Jails, I..."


Thanks, Jeremiah,
As far as I recall, Jails, Institutions and Death were an offshoot of the legendary Providence, RI band Frodo, which was fronted by a bizarre character named Geronimo Von, who, rumor had it, never once took off his red leathers to wash, and eventually disappeared somewhere on the outskirts of Cranston, leaving a note that said, simply, "Guess." I have a tape of them playing their most famous song, "Shank Me." Do you have more info?


message 25: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Sacha wrote: "Sam,

Home Land was revelatory. It was transgressive and bat-shit hilarious. I'm curious about your process. Do you set goals and word counts and deadlines? Or does your voice just rush out in a ki..."


Thanks, Sacha, I appreciate your kind words. Sometimes if I think I'm slacking off I'll make some kind of goal for the day, but usually I just want to steal as many hours as I can to work on my fiction. On a rare, great day there is a nice rush of words that aren't completely awful, but really I spend most of my time revising. The first draft is always the hardest for me, but then I love all the rewriting.


message 26: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Brent wrote: "Hi, Sam.

Thank you for making a book (The Ask) that wiped a smile on my face and tore laughter from my lungs while I to-ed and fro-ed between work and home. I felt, for a few days at least, tha..."


Thanks, Brent! I'm fluttering and gurgling just reading that. You made my day! If you ever see me mumbling on the bus, please say hello.


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian (ianrick) Hi, Sam. I have two questions--the first one being a very esoteric inquiry designed to slake a curiosity I've harbored for several years. Were you influenced by the following: Lester Bangs, both in the voice of Lewis Miner and in the phrase "fine fettle" that is prevalent throughout "The Subject Steve," and Bill Hicks (My favorite bit by Hicks, a rant about the show "Cops," begins as does "Homeland" with the line "It's confession time")?

And, also: Since "Venus Drive," You've published several excellent short-stories--"Snacks," "Nate's Pain Is Now," etc. Is a second collection in the works?


message 28: by Alan (new)

Alan (alanst) Sam, Your work has a great way of capturing the sorts of things we all (I assume) think but are afraid to express openly. One line that struck me from The Ask was something like "I often love my son." Of course most Dads always loves their sons, but that word "often" perfectly captured the essence of parental affection.


message 29: by Michael (last edited Mar 17, 2010 02:28PM) (new)

Michael Hello Sam.

I've got two questions.

The first concerns perspective. While most of your stories, and your three novels, have a similar perspective, that of a 30-something white male in a low to mid social setting in New Jersey or New York (sorry for the gross generalization), one of your stories from Venus Drive titled "The Morgue Rollers" (excuse me if I get any of these details wrong as it's been a while since I've read the collection) is from the point of view of a young girl, a young Korean girl if I'm not mistaken. I always enjoy experiments with perspective, but I've had writing teachers in the past that won't take a story seriously unless they see a very strong link between the writer's perspective and that of the narrator. What do you think? Do you find it easier or more enjoyable to write from a perspective closer to your own?

Second, are you a fan of Stanley Elkin's work? His work makes me laugh and cry for the same reasons as yours.


message 30: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisamarch) Hi Sam,
As a fundraiser for a third-tier university, I'm LOVING The Ask. I know you work at a university, but have you worked in development? Your perspective is spot on. I love it.


message 31: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Ian wrote: "Hi, Sam. I have two questions--the first one being a very esoteric inquiry designed to slake a curiosity I've harbored for several years. Were you influenced by the following: Lester Bangs, both in..."

Hi Ian,
Thanks for your questions. I've always loved Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, but I never consciously connected it to "fine fettle." I thought I was taking it from somebody I knew who used that phrase sometimes. But maybe the Bangs was floating in there as well. Bill Hicks is great, but I really only know his Gulf War stuff well, especially his immortal line about being "for the war but against the troops." With the opening of Home Land I was just playing off the novelistic convention of declaring a confession at the outset. The "time," for me, was more associated with our penchant for adding "time" to our sentences in silly ways: "It's show time," "It's go time," etc. Check out Willem Dafoe in "Auto Focus." There is a creepy spin on this phenomenon there having to do with his character's digital watch.

As to your second question, I'm working on a collection of short stories right now, which may include those stories you mention.


message 32: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Alan wrote: "Sam, Your work has a great way of capturing the sorts of things we all (I assume) think but are afraid to express openly. One line that struck me from The Ask was something like "I often love my so..."

I'm glad that line spoke to you, Alan. I think when you are a parent your realize that "always" is the base truth. But when things get a little crazy, "often" or "not lately" may also speak for a part of you -- not your heart, of course. Just maybe your nerves.


message 33: by Sam (last edited Mar 19, 2010 09:35AM) (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "Hello Sam.

I've got two questions.

The first concerns perspective. While most of your stories, and your three novels, have a similar perspective, that of a 30-something white male in a low t..."


Michael,
Thanks for the thoughtful questions. Yes, "The Morgue Rollers" is a kind of odd duck in that collection, but I'm glad it's there. It's basically a retelling of a story my mother told me before she died, about being a little girl in Pittsburgh and roller-skating all over the place with her best fried, a Chinese-American girl. One day they went to the public pool but they wouldn't let the friend in because of her ethnicity (this is, say, 1940). So they went other places, sort of exploring the city streets, and by accident they rolled right through some open back alley door into a morgue. I'm sure they were only there for a minute but I don't think my mother ever forgot it. So I tried to write the piece in the voice of a girl like my mother was once. I hope to experiment a bit more with perspectives in some of the stories I'm working on now. But I think people should write whatever they want, and their autobiographies should have nothing to do with it. This is imaginative writing -- the only license you need is your ability to create compelling fiction. You have to give yourself permission to try everything. Furthermore -- to segue ever so smoothly into your second question -- Stanley Elkin, one of my favorite writers ever, advised people to write what they don't know.


message 34: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "Hi Sam,
As a fundraiser for a third-tier university, I'm LOVING The Ask. I know you work at a university, but have you worked in development? Your perspective is spot on. I love it."


Lisa, this is great to hear. I have never worked in development. I've known people who do or have, but I made a lot up -- I really just wanted to get the tone, the mood of that kind of office right, to pinpoint the anxieties that might be involved with this work.


message 35: by Ravi (new)

Ravi | 3 comments Hi Sam, another question for you. I think Milo says it best in The Ask when he says, "If I were the protagonist of a book or a movie, it would be hard to like me, to identify with me, right?"

Your protagonists strike me as almost harmless antiheroes, but I have to admit I've pulled for every one of them. I want them to get to do the raunchy things they want to do, etc.

So my question is, do you think we pull for them just because they are the main characters, or because you unveil their insecurities and history, or do you have to create a sort of competence for them with your prose skills?

Do you think you could write sympathetic perspectives (alternating chapters or something) for two opposing characters, e.g. both Milo and Purdy, with the same prose style?

I hope this question makes sense.

-Ravi


message 36: by Khalid (new)

Khalid | 2 comments Sam, could you discuss your writing process a little more?

For instance, does everything come out when you sit down to write, or do you jot notes throughout the day too? Are you always working on a scene/chapter, or do write any lines that may be of use somewhere (without knowing where)? Do you force yourself to write a full draft, even if it disappoints you? I assumed that you would need to get the wording of each sentence/section right before you could continue, meaning that there would never really be a draft (each part would be either in progress or complete), but you said you do a full draft.

Is there anything you've changed in your approach to writing (time of day, location, outlook, ...)? Was there anything you stopped doing because it was harmful?

Lots of question marks here, but there's really only one question.

Looking forward to whatever you're willing to share!


message 37: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Ravi1187 wrote: "Hi Sam, another question for you. I think Milo says it best in The Ask when he says, "If I were the protagonist of a book or a movie, it would be hard to like me, to identify with me, right?"

You..."


Ravi,
That's a very interesting question. Some readers have been telling me they find Purdy more sympathetic at times than Milo. I can understand that. I'm not sure I can analyze exactly how things work in my books when and if they do, but I know when I'm reading the fiction of others, it's usually a matter of being seduced by the prose, by the way the story is getting told. It doesn't matter whether it's first-person or third-person, or where on the moral spectrum the main character resides. If I feel the writer has real authority on the page, that the prose is undeniable in whatever mode --minimal, maximal, realist, surrealist, etc. -- it is operating within, I'm aboard. And if I'm seduced by a voice, if I recognize honesty in it ( and this is just as possible in work relying on a notion of extreme artifice as one purporting to be "real") I am rooting for that voice, if only for it not to stop. And I will even start pretending the character is an actual person for a while, if those are the terms of the work that is giving me pleasure. But that really needs to be earned.


message 38: by Sam (last edited Mar 21, 2010 08:48PM) (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Khalid wrote: "Sam, could you discuss your writing process a little more?

For instance, does everything come out when you sit down to write, or do you jot notes throughout the day too? Are you always working on ..."


Khalid,

Well, those are a bunch of nice questions. I definitely do a lot of revision even as I'm writing the first draft, because in a lot of cases the language is telling me where to go, and I want the language to be strong and consistent enough to bear that burden. So I move sideways toward the end of the first draft, moving forward but backing up a lot, especially when I think I've made a wrong turn. So maybe it's wrong to call it a draft. I usually just refer to as "that goddamn bastard." I much prefer the later stages, when I can I keep shaping and honing something that is already there, something that begins and ends. Having children and teaching full time has changed my writing M.O. I write in libraries now, and a lot of the book gets written over successive summers or in windows of time I find during the semester. As to harmful habits, I think it's important to be away from an internet connection.


message 39: by Ravi (new)

Ravi | 3 comments Okay, since nobody else has asked anything, I'll ask a third question.

Sam,

Maybe you could provide some insight into your style and writing process at the sentence level? Your descriptions are often off the wall, which is what makes them so enjoyable. Does that come naturally to you? Or do you have a skeleton sentence or message, and then substitute better ideas as they come?

For instance, here's a fairly random sentence from The Ask about a secondary character:

"Our rainmaker, Llewellyn, seemed born for this job, keen for any chance to tickle the rectal bristles of the rich with his Tidewater tongue."

Was this originally something like: "Our [boss:], Llewellyn, was made for this job, [he liked:] to [lick rich behinds:] with his [Southern/Virginian tongue:]." ?

I guess the bottomline of my question is, is your style the product of a workmanlike effort, or is it just very natural at this point? Did it ever take much effort, maybe in your Venus Drive days?

(Sorry for all the questions)

-Ravi


message 40: by Sacha (new)

Sacha (sachazscoblic) | 2 comments Good question!


message 41: by Steven (new)

Steven Pattison (smpattison) | 1 comments Hey Sam, do you have any advice how to meet girls on online social book sites?


message 42: by Greg (new)

Greg | 1 comments Hi Sam, which characters are generally more fun to write: antagonists or protagonists?

And what music, if any, do you listen to while writing?


message 43: by Khalid (new)

Khalid | 2 comments Sam,

I wanted to let you know that, at least as of its initial week, The Ask was front and center at Powell's. I preordered it with Amazon, thinking there was some benefit (nope), so I didn't buy it at Powell's. But there it was, right at the entrance. I always know about albums before they're released, but The Ask was probably the only book I've ever known about before it was published. It has your best book cover, too. So it seems like your fourth book was your first real chance to get the praise you deserve.

I have almost no memory, and only have impressions of your first three books, but I've always remembered this quote from you: "I constantly steal from my life and the lives of my friends. I don't really have what people call an imagination."
(I found the source: http://www.wweek.com/story.php?story=....)
I felt that I knew exactly what you meant, because I feel the same way: although it may seem very creative/imaginative to others, you don't feel you have an imagination. The sound of the words in a good line suggests another good, unrelated line, and put together they make a great idea/plot point, something you would have never thought of otherwise, and with almost no effort on your part. Almost everything else has a specific origin in your life that you can identify at the time, although you may later forget what it was...

I've felt a kinship with you because I assumed that was what you meant. However: is that at all what you meant?

Also, have you had to provide a disclaimer to your students because of The Ask's mediocre university creatives (aspiring artists=aspiring fiction writers)? Did you have to tell them, "That wasn't about you guys"? Is that ever a problem, denying that something you've written is about someone you know?

Sorry. This message is monstrous.


message 44: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Ravi1187 wrote: "Okay, since nobody else has asked anything, I'll ask a third question.

Sam,

Maybe you could provide some insight into your style and writing process at the sentence level? Your descriptions are o..."


Ravi,

Very interesting question. A sentence can take many paths to "making the cut." There is definitely a lot of revision and honing, so it's possible that I might have an idea first and then find the language for it, but most often it's the other way around, or a simultaneous arrival. With the sentence you quoted, that character was originally from somewhere else, but I couldn't decide. So I just started rewriting the sentence and "Tidewater" came out. I really liked how it sounded there. So, I said to myself, I guess this guy is from Virginia. And I teased that part of his character out as the book went along.


message 45: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Steven wrote: "Hey Sam, do you have any advice how to meet girls on online social book sites?"

Just tell them how much you love the work of Sam Lipsyte. Or I guess you can "neg" them or something.


message 46: by Sam (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Greg wrote: "Hi Sam, which characters are generally more fun to write: antagonists or protagonists?

And what music, if any, do you listen to while writing?"


Hey, Greg,
Well, all the characters are protagonists in some universe, so the most interesting thing is to try to inhabit their perspectives for a while.

I actually wrote something about music and my writing here: http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/a...


message 47: by Sam (last edited Mar 31, 2010 08:23AM) (new)

Sam Lipsyte | 24 comments Mod
Khalid wrote: "Sam,

I wanted to let you know that, at least as of its initial week, The Ask was front and center at Powell's. I preordered it with Amazon, thinking there was some benefit (nope), so I didn't buy ..."


Khalid,
Thanks for the monstrous message!
I think that's definitely in the ballpark of what I meant. I'd argue with the effort part. I still find it all a tremendous effort. And though most things have an origin in something we've experiencecd, heard about, misheard, read, seen on TV, think we've experienced, etc., it's the alchemy of it all, the neuronic collision of these elements with language, that is where the "imaginative" part of it kicks in.
As to my students, many have read the book and given me a lot of support. I am indebted to them. Working with them has made me a better writer. They know the book is not about taking pot shots at aspiring artists, that what I'm talking about is something they wrestle with every day -- the cost of an education and the expectations about remuneration one needs to shed to be an artist. Not to say you will never get paid, but if that's why you've gotten into the arts, you are in deep trouble. Especially these days. Nice to see you in Portland!


message 48: by Peter (new)

Peter Knox (peterknox) Sam! After getting my copy at your McNally Jackson reading/signing, I read it in the park over the weekend and finished Sunday night. It felt like a natural book to come after Home Land and I think your best yet. It was funny, authentic (having lived on 30th ave in Astoria for years), and really enjoyable to read. Milo is a great character and easily relatable; I do hope things work out for him. Meanwhile, congrats on the book, all of the good press, and thanks for doing all of this! I hope to see you again – good luck at Joe’s Pub tonight!


message 49: by Alan (new)

Alan (alanst) Nice review of the book in last week's Economist


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