Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Calling All Catamounts: Shteyngart Interviews Lipsyte

If you are like me and fell in love with Teabag in Sam Lipsyte's HOME LAND, then check out this interview on Loggernaut. Gary Shteyngart, author of the hilarious RUSSIAN DEBUTANTE'S HANDBOOK, pulls perfect morsels out of Lipsyte's work, like:

This is Teabag speaking to his principal, Mr. Fontana: "Some nights I picture myself naked, covered in napalm, running down the street. But then it's not napalm. It's apple butter. And it's not a street. It's my mother."

It's the jarring nonsequiturs and mother-love that makes Teabag, and other Lipsyte protags, win my heart. I went all over NYC looking for VENUS DRIVE, and where do I find it? In Istanbul, Turkey. Groovy UK edition. I know I'm not alone in my Cult of Lipsyte, and if you're not onboard, please, get with the program.

And Shteyngart, he's no slouch either, a pioneer (and probably the funniest) in the new milennium's Russian-American literary movement. My favorite moment in RUSSIAN DEBUTANTE:

"Vladimir, how can I say this? Please, don't be cross with me. I know you'll be cross with me, you're such a soft young man. But if I don't tell you the truth, will I be fulfilling my motherly duties? No, I will not. The truth then..." She sighed deeply, an alarming sigh, the sigh of exhaling the last doubt, the sigh of preparing for battle. "Vladimir," she said, "you walk like a Jew."

Another mom moment. And they do discuss Jewish fiction in the interview, the "done" American version, and the newer, immigrant version. I'm not a Jew, I'm not qualified to rehash or analyze. Only to recommend.

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