A story from the American novelist's latest collectionby Sam Lipsyte / June 19, 2013 / Leave a comment
© Nata Metlukh
The novelist Sam Lipsyte has been described by Time magazine as “the most consistently funny fiction writer working today.” The story below comes from his latest collection, The Fun Parts. “I imagined someone who had become ensnared in a cycle of downfall and uplift just to survive commercially, to keep his memoir business afloat,” says Lipsyte. “I didn’t want to poke fun from a distance. I wanted to inhabit the terror a little bit. But the main reason I wrote the story is because people in America always tell you that you should never write about writers—one of those silly fiction rules you should take every opportunity to break.”
Nobody wanted my woe. Nobody craved my disease. The smack, the crack, the punch-outs and lockdowns, all those gun-to-my-temple whimpers about my dead mother and scabby cat—nobody cared anymore. The world had worthier victims. Slavers pimped out war orphans in hovels hung with rat-chewed velveteen. Babies starved on the desert floor.
Once, my gigs at the big-box bookshops teemed with the angry and ex-decadent, the loading-bay anarchists and hackers on parole, the meth mules, psych majors.
Goth girls, coke ghosted, rehabbed at twelve and stripping sober, begged for my sagas of degradation, epiphany. They pressed in with their inks, their dyes, their labial metals and scarified montes, cheered their favorite passages, the famous ones, where I ate some sadistic dealer’s turd on a Portuguese sweet roll for the promise of a bindle, or broke into a funeral parlor and slit a corpse open for the formaldehyde. My fans would stomp and holler for my sorrows, my sins, sway in stony reverence as I mapped my steps back to sanity (the stint on a garbage truck, the first clean screw), or whatever semblance of sanity was possible in a world gone berserk with misery, plague, affinity marketing.
I had what some guy at an Utica book café called arc. You can’t teach arc, he said. Nobody’s born with it, either. I stood for something. My finger lingered on the somehow still-flickering pulse.
I had a good run. Bang the Dope Slowly and its follow-up, I Shoot Horse, Don’t I?, sold big. I bought a loft, married Diana, who’d stood by in the darkness, my “research” years. My old man, the feckless prick, even he broke down and vowed his love.…