Saturday, August 3, 2013

Review: "Home Land" by Sam Lipsyte

Sam Lipsyte is a very funny writer, maybe the funniest if he ever turns to writing pure comedy, which I think he is doing. This is very evident in his novels The Ask, his breakthrough hit, and this one, Home Land. He has a scathing satirical voice that brutally critiques modern life, but does so while critiquing the critiquer. It is refreshing in its themes and ideas, but the execution can be a bit clunky sometimes, due solely his strong sense of control over the story. By that I mean he never really lets it take off into places it needs to go to be really, truly great storytelling instead of just great satire. Too many times in Home Land, he forgoes more realistic and more interesting route to make a funny joke or have a character say something really clever. It leaves me begging for something that might have been, even though, in small doses, it can make a reader laugh quite uproariously. The premise of this novel is really interesting, and is what made me read it as a follow-up to The Ask. Lewis Miner, known unaffectionately as “Teabag” by his high school classmates at Eastern Valley High School, decides to write to the school’s newsletter, Catamount Notes, and tell the world his awful history post-high school, from being left by the love of his life for an incestuous relationship with the love’s brother, his screwed up friendship with his best friend Gary and his antagonistic relationship with the principal Mr. Fontana, who publishes Teabag’s musings to spite him. There is very little plot, but of what there is, it is quite funny and sad all at once, leading to a climatic speech at Teabag’s high school reunion being the highlight of the novel. As I said before, there are a too many instances where a plot direction is ignored for a joke, but if you want a gut busting read, look no further than this, or any other Lipsyte novel.
Rating: 4/5

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