“Show Recent Some Love”
by Sam Lipsyte
from the November 19, 2018 issue of The New Yorker
Oh boy, it feels like forever since we last had Sam Lipsyte in The New Yorker. Going back and reading my posts from 2010 to 2012, it is clear that Lipsyte and I just were not on the same page when we got more of his work; in fact, every story felt worse than the last.
Of course, some of this was on me. You know how it can be: once you start to dislike an author’s work it is hard to give yet another story a fair shake. Betsy, on the other hand, was contributing regularly to the New Yorker responses back then, and she took to him. I see a comment she made from May 2014 where she says, “I’m a little flustered to see how much you didn’t like it [. . . .] This guy really is not your cup of tea.” Betsy then goes on to offer many reasons to find value that I was overlooking.
It’s been years since I read Lipsyte. To be honest, I’m curious if I’ve given myself enough space to approach “Give Recent Some Love” with a clear head and without preconceptions.
Then again, I read the first paragraph:
At this juncture, in this environment, only an ogre could defend Mike Matlby, and Isaac was not quite the ogre type. Maybe more on the order of a jerk, according to Nina. As a human being, a woman, and his life partner, she added, she felt it was crucial that she make this distinction. All men, yes. But not all men in all ways.
The first two sentences are fine, and clearly we are looking at another story that will look at the world with #MeToo. After that, though, it all starts to feel disjointed and vague to me, the last two sentences, in particular.
I think this is a stylistic thing, and it might work for many. Maybe it would work for me if I didn’t have a bit of wariness to Lipsyte’s work.
So what do you all think? Please let me know below, and I’ll work on giving it