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Home Land: A Novel Paperback – December 9, 2004
100 (Fiction) Books to Read in a Lifetime
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From Publishers Weekly
Former Feed editor Lipsyte was one of the young writers to come out of Open City's initial rise in the '90s; his collection of short stories was followed by 2001's The Subject Steve, a kind of condensed Infinite Jest. This second novel is written as a series of insanely baroque, inappropriately intimate letters to a high school alumni newsletter, 20 or so years after graduation. The letters' fictional author, Lewis Miner, aka "Teabag," is clearly lucid enough to know that the letters could never be printed, let alone appreciated by what emerge as his philistine fellow graduates, but he persists anyway. That giddy, passing-itself-off-as-ordinary persistence becomes the point of the novel, which presents lives that continue in the face of crushing, banal and heartbreaking failures. Lewis can barely make his rent payments, is employed writing "FakeFacts" for a cola outfit and is recovering from his fiancée's recent departure. He and his clique of Eastern Valley High leftovers cope as best they can, taunting and analyzing one another unceasingly. The novel climaxes, if it can be called that, at a surreal gathering of former classmates dubbed a Togethering. At every turn, Lipsyte plays on the clichés of the stuck-white-aging-male, though he embellishes them with sharp dialogue. That the novel is an unpleasant, static read is a sign of its uncompromising, mise-en-abyme success.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From The New Yorker
The hero of this comic novel, Lewis Miner, a.k.a. Teabag, was a high-school stoner, and now makes it his mission to write extremely candid letters to the alumni newsletter. His life, as he writes, "did not pan out." He works as a dishwasher in his father's cheesy catering business and spends his free time moping with his friend Gary, who sued his parents for molestation and then sued the shrink who conjured up these false memories. Teabag's letters detail his sexual fantasies (most of which involve the leg warmers of the school's jazz-dancing squad), his stalled ambition, and the misshapen pearls of wisdom he's garnered from his bottomed-out life. The story ends in an improbable shootout, but Lipsyte transfigures Teabag's self-loathing into a sensibility that is both hilarious and noble.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.