Minor, aka Teabag, is our faithful tour guide through the wreckage of his unfulfilled aspirations. Years after graduating, little has changed from his high school days. He still lives in the same mind-numbing New Jersey suburb; he still has the same friends; he still suffers the same insecurities; he still does the same stupid things; and he describes them all in a very frank and very funny way. But with his ten-year high school reunion fast approaching feelings of self-doubt and disillusionment began to cloud the horizon as people and events he’s tried to forget begin reappearing in his life with mostly unpleasant results.
Lipsyte has a rare talent for narrative introspection that is both entertaining and revealing. In Teabag, he’s created a distinctive protagonist, a sort of Ignatius J. Reilly/Holden Caufield mash up, that will not soon be forgotten. He’s a crass buffoon that if not for his redeeming vulnerability, would come off as the kind of weirdo you might see hanging around a 7-Eleven browsing pornographic magazines. But Teabag has heart. And he pours it out on the pages, both the compelling and the creepy, with heartbreaking honesty. Throughout the story, he and his ensemble of friends and enemies prove a worthy vehicle for Lipsyte’s stylized plumbing of existentialist anxieties.
The depth of introspection that Lipsyte’s able to achieve in Home Land, often juxtaposed against a backdrop of childish situations or foolish rantings, is a pleasant surprise and a great testament to his talent. For some, these themes may border on the obscene or feel overdone, but Lipsyte remains true to the characters and the quality of writing is never compromised. At times, the sparse storyline also feels threatened by the constant introspection, but the overall product will impress with some unexpectedly rich prose, not to mention dozens of laugh-out-loud moments and clever dialogue.
Since publishing Home Land in 2004, Lipsyte, now a professor of fiction at Columbia, has earned wide acclaim for other works such as The Ask (2012) -also recommended by The Literate Man- and The Fun Parts (2012).