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Sam Lipsyte is the author of "Venus Drive, The Subject Steve, Home Land, "and" The Ask, "the latter two "New York Times" Notable Books, and, most recently, "The Fun Parts." He won the first annual Believer Book Award and was a 2008 Guggenheim Fellow. He teaches writing at Columbia University's School of the Arts.
Lipsyte . . . may be the most consistently funny fiction writer working today. Satire is second nature to him. "Bryan Walsh, TIME" [Lipsyte] can't be matched . . . Read ["The Fun Parts"] with "The Ask" if you really want to know how a mordant jokester with a madman's imagination became a literary rock star. "Janet Maslin, The New York Times" [Lipsyte] is producing some of the purest social satire written today. "Matthew Love, Time Out New York" Lipsyte expertly works the line between hilarity and pathos. "Ben Fountain, The New York Times Book Review" In this second story collection, fierce satire mingles with warmth and pathos as Lipsyte ("The Ask") showcases his knack for stylistic variety and tangles with the thorny human experiences of moving beyond one's past or shedding one's personal baggage . . . Lipsyte's biting humor suffuses the collection, but it's his ability to control the relative darkness of each moment that makes the stories so engrossing. "Publishers' Weekly (starred review)""
Lipsyte (The Ask) conceived a great title for this book. There are "the fun parts"; then there are parts that aren't. The stories are all edgy, testing the boundaries between the ultra-real and the surreal. As one of the characters says, "Everything's weird if you look long enough." In the best of the stories, "This Appointment Occurs in the Past," an old college clique of poseurs reunites after many years to play out the second part of a pistol duel a la Pushkin. Other tales: a drugged-out proto-thief pitches a juvie biography of Marvelous Marvin Hagler, a second-class dungeons-and-dragons klatch is headed by a nutso dungeonmaster, and some young men bring back the Jersey shot-put scene of the mid-1980s. The not-so-great stories have their moments, like the longish "Republic of Empathy," but at other times just seem self-indulgently experimental. VERDICT A mixed bag; there's something for everyone (except maybe devotees of Nicholas Sparks or Jodi Picoult), but not an entire whole thing for anyone.-Robert E. Brown, Oswego, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.