Sam Lipsyte

  • Do Your Job

    IT WAS LATE ON THE FIRST NIGHT of Corona Times Passover and my teenage son chewed on a piece of matzo. Mind you, we were not following dietary restrictions. We’d had Hawaiian pizza for dinner, during which I’d rehashed the flight from Egypt, but hours later we were bored and peckish and broke in to the box of Streit’s my wife, who is not Jewish, had been kind enough to score at the supermarket.

    “Tastes like shit,” my son said, chewing.

    “They didn’t have time to make real bread.”

    “Who, the people at the matzo factory?”

    “No, the ancient Jews. I told you that. Anyway, it doesn’t taste like

  • The Big Chill

    Among many delights, Don DeLillo’s extraordinary new novel offers a bracing revision of our certitude about death and taxes. The rich, after all, learned long ago to evade the latter with offshore accounts and IRS loopholes, but in Zero K, the wealthiest have also, possibly, dodged mortality, that ultimate drag. Pay the right price for a cryonic pod and you too can slip into a heavy slumber until medicine finds a cure for what’s killing you, after which you will be thawed, treated, and sent off to live in deathless splendor in tomorrow’s gated utopia. If this sounds like a familiar premise,

  • Game of Drones

    The Kroll Show did a smart and disturbing sketch about American drone pilots bombing the enemy from comfy office chairs and running out to the vending machine for triumphant snacks. We’re a long way from Norman Mailer’s “fug”-muttering infantry, Gustav Hasford’s desperate marines (in The Short-Timers, by the way, upon which Full Metal Jacket was based, Cowboy tells Joker in his dying breaths that he never liked Joker, or thought he was funny, a line I always thought the Kubrick film might have benefited from), or even the platoon in Tim O’Brien’s Going After Cacciato, where the magic realism

  • culture February 13, 2013

    The Awkward Art of Writing About Sex

    Since my fiction is usually about people, and I consider sex one of the more important and emotionally fascinating activities people undertake, sometimes I must run the gauntlet of writing a sex scene. The results vary, though I try to make a habit of not publishing the many occasions when things don't work. "Don't worry," I console myself, stroking my arm. "It happens."

  • The Money Plot

    Stanley Elkins The Magic Kingdom is about a man’s efforts to take a group of terminally ill children to Disney World. Published in 1985, it is about as unsentimental and hilarious a chronicle of the indignities of life as I’ve ever encountered. The language and wit of the narration, and the detail lavished on the wretchedly afflicted children, keep what is now a familiar trope—the Make-A-Wish phenomenon—very fresh. There is a funny sequence toward the beginning of the novel when the protagonist, Eddy Bale, himself a grieving father, gains an audience with the Queen of England. He hopes for a