A hilarious collection of stories from the writer The New York Times called "the novelist of his generation."
Returning to the form in which he began, Sam Lipsyte, author of the New York Times bestseller The Ask, offers up The Fun Parts, a book of bold, hilarious, and deeply felt fiction. A boy eats his way to self-discovery while another must battle the reality-brandishing monster preying on his fantasy realm. Meanwhile, an aerobics instructor, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, makes the most shocking leap imaginable to save her soul. These are just a few of the stories, some first published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, or Playboy, that unfold in Lipsyte's richly imagined world.
Other tales feature a grizzled and possibly deranged male birth doula, a doomsday hustler about to face the multi-universal truth of "the real-ass jumbo," and a tawdry glimpse of the northern New Jersey high school shot-putting circuit, circa 1986. Combining both the tragicomic dazzle of his beloved novels and the compressed vitality of his classic debut collection, The Fun Parts is Lipsyte at his best - an exploration of new voices and vistas from a writer Time magazine has said "everyone should read."
"Starred Review. Lipsyte's biting humor suffuses the collection, but it's his ability to control the relative darkness of each moment that makes the stories so engrossing." - Publishers Weekly
"A mixed bag; there's something for everyone (except maybe devotees of Nicholas Sparks or Jodi Picoult), but not an entire whole thing for anyone." - Library Journal
"There are times... when the violent ending seems willed and gratuitous. The high school coach in "Ode to Oldcorn" is a fervent admirer of the champion shot putter. Was it really necessary for their reunion to end in broken bones? That forcing and a tendency to pile on are the only things preventing the dark vision of this smart, hip, supertalented writer from being truly memorable." - Kirkus
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Rated of 5
The Fun Parts
I have mixed feelings about The Fun Parts . I do enjoy Lipsyte's humor - dry, sarcastic, hidden innuendos, and sometimes just plain funny. I chuckled out loud several times and enjoyed it as a whole. A few standouts - "The Climber Room" is the story of Tovah Gold, a 36-year-old pre-K teacher who yearns to write poetry. The central character in "Deniers," the best story in the book, is Mandy Gottlieb, a 30-year-old woman who teaches cardio ballet at the Jewish Community Center in her New Jersey town, the other selections are mainstream and pure Lipsyte.
However, there are an abundant amount of drug addicts as characters in the stories. Another drawback - Lipsyte seems to focus primarily on people dealing with addiction be it alcohol and drugs, infidelity, seeking closure from dysfunctional parental relationships, also haves and have-nots battling it out over social classes. The Fun Parts - good, not bad but could have been better. If you want a laugh or two and your expectations are at a minimum give this collection of short stories a shot, you might find it more than good.
Sam Lipsyte was born in 1968. He is the author of the story collection Venus Drive (named one of the top twenty-five books of its year by the Voice Literary Supplement) and two novels: The Subject Steve and Home Land, which was a New York Times Notable Book and received the first annual Believer Book Award. He lives in New York.
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