“The fact that the book then becomes a genuinely thrilling thriller about a radical young woman makes it even better. I’m only a hundred pages in, but I can’t wait to read on…”
“The concept novel, like its musical equivalent, has always been a risky endeavor. At its ingenious best — Nabokov’s “Pale Fire,” say, or more recently, David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” — the result has moved the needle of serious fiction forward, proving, as it nowadays must always be proved, that the novel is a still-evolving form. . .”
I did something weird while I wrote “American Subversive”: I went out of my way to listen to music with incisive lyrics. When I mention this to my book-writing friends they look at me sideways, and I don’t blame them. Waltzing with one set of words is hard enough; a concomitant two-step is a recipe for madness….
Rumpus: As long as books are still here, blurbs probably will be, too. You’re known, along with Gary Shteyngart, as being one of the great blurbers of our time. Are there that many wonderful books coming out? Or are you just a softie?
Lipsyte: I see some good stuff. And I want to encourage it—the work I think is interesting, daring. A little friendly push into the void might help the book bump into some faraway readers. A lot of writers have stopped blurbing. Just won’t do it. Burnt out, maybe. I’m getting fatigued, and pass on a lot of stuff now, but I also still want to help somehow. I work with Gary at Columbia, and I’m sure he feels the same way. I love some of his blurbs—they are becoming surreal little projects. He’s doing groundbreaking blurb work. There is also my hunch that blurbs don’t make a difference, but I don’t know.
Rumpus: Groundbreaking blurb work. Now that’s something.
Lipsyte: The ideal would be the bookless blurb.
Rumpus: Or just as rare, the blurbless book….
I sat down with Adam Haslett to talk about Union Atlantic, his timely first novel about two warring neighbors and a bank on the brink of a meltown. Read the Daily Beast essay here.