12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2005
Sam Lipsyte sees things more clearly than most writers, and he doesn't flinch. What is portrayed by even his admirers as over-the-top satire strikes me as a dead-on adumbration of every value Americans hold dear, every piety we utter, every meaningless counter that marks our status. While the marvelous conceit of this book--letters to a alumni newsletter--has been recognized and applauded, what hasn't really been remarked upon is that in firing off his jeremiads, Lewis Miner's is a voice speaking into a void. There is no wise and simple man in his Connemara clothes waiting for Lewis's epistles. This book is funny, yes: laugh out loud funny. But it is also dark, a blending of the intense and somber tones of VENUS DRIVE with the brighter and more detached comedy of THE SUBJECT STEVE. It is also very wise: Lipsyte posits no solution to the waste he portrays, no utopian ideal to which his book serves as an illustration of its dystopic opposite. Yet Lewis Miner leaves us with hope, he threads his way through the sheer, glittering, noisy, cacophanously glorious surface of Lipsyte's book to find his way to a sort of self-knowledge. Buy the book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2005
Reading Home Land is therapeutic. It has an autobiographical feel, as if he's spun the events of his life into fabulously cynical gold. You can just picture Lipsyte enduring a whole lot of hell in his life- but with utmost patience, knowing it was just for the mill that would ultimately produce a work of genius. He's got everyone figured out. The characters and dialogue are indicative of an author with incredible psychological consciousness and emotional intelligence. Picture Arrested Development actually fulfilling its satirical aspirations. That's Lipsyte.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2006
People will think you're crazy when you start laughing like a maniac. I could relate to many of the situations described here. It reads like some of the better Blogs out there (true diamonds in the rough those are, but they are worth the effort to look for).
I loved this book, truly and honestly. Although my school life was never as bizzare as that of the characters in this future classic, this is definitely the funniest book I've ever read where Home Land was the title.
Okay, it's only the second book I've read with sucha title, the other being Homeland by R.A. Salvatore (Book 1 in The Dark Elf Trilogy) and that one wasn't intended to be funny.
One complaint I do have though. Why no audiobook version? Honestly, if you were to do one and couldn't get the author, Marc Maron or Chasing Amy's Jason Lee would be perfect.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2005
There may be a novelist out there as funny as Sam Lipsyte, and maybe a few who can produce characters who will break your heart as tenderly, but probably not. There is absolutely no one else who can do both together so beautifully. Lewis Miner's absurdly honest, appalling, wonderful updates to his New Jersey high school alumni bulletin come in the sort of voice writers dream of creating, if they're smart enough to dream dreams like that--a voice unlike any other. The updates, concerning Lewis's thumbless best friend, his lost love who preferred her own brother, and the constant disgrace of being an American who did not, as he says, pan out, are hilarious, but what makes them so extraordinary is Lipsyte's construction of a new sort of language: his sentences rip English apart and put it back together in strange, playful configurations that make it mean more, not less. He's a master of a sort of comedy that keeps you laughing so hard you can't quite figure out when you began crying, but it doesn't matter, because by now you're laughing again.
20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2005
I really did. In the (glowing) review I read, it sounded clever and original, and at first, it was, but unfortunately, it quickly ran out of steam. The main character in this book reminded me a lot of Ethan Hawke's character in "Reality Bites", and I didn't like that movie for the same reason I didn't like this book.
As any adolescent knows, it's very easy to criticize society and those who play by it's rules. It's a lot harder to turn that criticism into insight. Pointing out how foolish the "norms" are doesn't, in and of itself, make you better than them or make you more profound. And ultimately, that's what annoyed me the most about this book- it ended up playing out like some kind of adolescent fantasy, like "It's cool to have sex and do drugs and hang out with degenerates and have no responsibility". Unfortunately, that sentiment is neither new nor novel, and the author offers no new insight into either that lifestyle or those who choose to live it.
Still, I'm giving this 3 stars. It reads quickly, and there are enough funny scenes scattered through out that it will at least keep you interested and entertained, if not enlightened.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2004
If you like the music of Steven Seagal as much as I do, then I guarantee you'll love this book. If not, if you don't necessarily like the music of Seagal or you just haven't had the pleasure of his new album "Songs From the Crystal Cave" (available on amazon also, I believe), then I'm still pretty sure you will love this book. Like Seagal steppin' foot on a railroad car ("Under Siege 2"), jetliner ("Executive Decision"), aircraft carrier ("Under Siege"), or stepping out of a nine-year coma ("Hard to Kill"), Lipsyte writes like a man who knows he's about to kick your ass. And trust me, my friends, with "Homeland" Lipsyte breaks your arm in half at the elbow, backwards-style, twisting it ever so, a la you know who. There's only two things stopping you from buying this book: fear and common sense. But you're just crazy enough to do it anyway. Isn't that right, my friend?
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2004
I'm in highschool and am proud to say that this book is the the funniest book about high school that I have ever read. My girlfriend gave me the great book Venus Drive, and after reading it, I thought this is my new favorite writer. I will admit that I did not really understand what the heck was going on in his follow up, the Subject Steve, but Home Land is as funny a book as I've ever read.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2005
Home Land: A Novel by Sam Lipsyte aims to reveal the absurdity of the pristine lives and career and parental successes we portray to society by contrasting such notions with the opposite and equally ridiculous life of the "loser" main character, Lewis Miner. Miner tells his story through updates to his high school alumni newsletter, a great stylistic choice that left me with the feeling that Lipsyte could not have told this story with as much success any other way. I often found myself laughing out loud despite the inanity of much of Miner's updates, and at the same time the novel implicitly asks why we do not similarly laugh at the cheery but equally inane updates found in our own alumni newsletters. Throughout the book I could not help thinking that this was a novelized American version of the movie Trainspotting. Miner even gives a monologue near the end baring more than a resemblance to that movie's "Choose Life" monologue. In a similar way to Trainspotting, Home Land says something as a whole without actually saying much of any substance within. It's funny, entertaining, even thought-provoking, but it often sacrifices emotional depth and insight for vulgarity and a good laugh making this a good read but nothing like the revelation of modern writing many of its critics would have you believe.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2005
Since I came to NYC, I've read two truly hilarious novels - The Russian Debutante's Handbook (that's Shteyngart) and The Mating Season (which would be Woodhouse). I put Home Land among em. Jokes on every page, high concept - what if someone wrote their high school alumni notes ... and told the truth? I loved it. And I loved that it was relentlessly suburban, building to the magic of the 15 year reunion, while it told of the travails of Lewis Miner, high school loser cum adult loser, with the biting sarcasm and gimlet eye of the dispossessed.
I don't review books without ripping them a little, even if I love them. So what's wrong with the so-right Home Land (other than the boring title)?
- the secondary characters get lots of good lines, but sound a lot a like - Principal Fontana, Gary the drug addict, and Lewis's dad all sound pretty alike. Read for the jokes, not the richness of the periphery
- the lost love who consumed Lewis's 20s was a little random. Why was she a quasi-movie star? Why did he go to Manhattan to deal with her? I thought the plot was good, in the lots of interesting sketches building suspense and leading to a great last line. But not every sketch made sense.
- weird change from Lewis being a Pale Fire like unreliable narrator to a more faithful recorder of events. Did the one form just poop out?
These are minor quibbles, in what, I would have to say, is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I'll be pressing it on my friends eagerly. And the paperback price is so, so right.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2005
Home Land should be read in private, not because of the secret pleasures enjoyed by Sam Lipsyte's characters (on the Internet or with one another), but because of the boisterous hilarity that explodes from the reader - uncontrolled mirth seems to frighten strangers in public places even when brought on by wonderful writing. Lipsyte's people make the weird ordinary and the ordinary obscene.