Sam-Lipsyte-AUTHOR-_278592cWhat have you done now?

I’ve spilled coffee on my shirt.


Do you own any clothes that aren’t stained?

I must. Stuff I haven’t worn, probably. Do you have any club soda? If I act now I can save this shirt.


Why are you such a slob?

I’m really not a slob. I just get excited. What is that?



Fine, that’ll work.


Is there a difference?

Salt? I don’t really know. Minerals? Salt minerals?


How’s the writing going?



Do you write on a computer, or by hand? Not that anyone cares.

I write by hand on a computer.


I read somewhere that you often revise your fiction.

That’s true.


Isn’t that cheating?

Excuse me?


You get to work on what you say to make it sound good. Most of us, in our daily lives, don’t.

I see your point.


Yet even with all the time in the world, this thing you’ve done here is a piece of garbage.

That bad?


I think so. But I guess we won’t know for a hundred years or more, if they have years, or numbers like one hundred, in the future. So you’ve got a new book out, a collection of stories?



Do you prefer writing novels or short stories?

Pencils. On legal pads. And my lucky coffee mug.


Is the short story here to stay? What would Poe make of something like CBSNewsOnline? If Shakespeare lived today, would he be designing video games?

He’d be writing sonnets.


When did fiction die, and have you grieved enough, or did you stuff those feelings down only to have them explode in dangerous ways later on?

Fiction died a while ago, I’ve been reading a lot about it. The essay is also dead. As is the poem. The only viable form is the interview.


Well, if this exercise is any indication, you’re screwed.



Anything else you want to tell readers about yourself? Any excuses or extenuating circumstances? Or should we leave well enough alone?

No, I’m done. I just want to thank you. I’ve long admired your crisp, confrontational interview style. I’m available for any follow-up questions.


Great. Here’s a follow-up. Why are you sucking up to me?

Because I’m frightened of you. I’m afraid you’ll see through me.


But when I’m alone I cry in my pillow because I know I’m a fraud.



Of course.

Come here.



Come in for a hug. I’m tired of fighting.


We weren’t fighting.

Just give me a hug.



Look, we just need to spend more time with each other, that’s all.  We can’t let ourselves drift. We’re so busy, but we have to make time, okay? Otherwise, we’re just sharing this body but we’re not really connected.


And what a body it is.

Seriously. Right? So, we live in a dump, we can still make the best of it. We have to try, though.


I’m sorry.

Don’t be sorry. Just love me.


I can do that. That I can do.


Sam Lipsyte is the author of The Fun Parts: Stories, Venus Drive, The Subject Steve, Home Land, and The Ask, the latter two  of which were New York Times Notable Books. He won the first annual Believer Book Award and was a 2008 Guggenheim Fellow. He teaches writing at the Columbia University School of the Arts.

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TNB FICTION is proud to showcase book excerpts and original short fiction from some of the finest writers in the world. Features have included work by Aimee Bender, Dan Chaon, Stuart Dybek, Jennifer Egan, Bret Easton Ellis, Roxane Gay, Etgar Keret, Antonya Nelson, and hundreds of other internationally acclaimed and emerging writers. Spotlighting a recent book release each week, TNB Fiction helps bring awareness of new literary fiction, from both trade and independent publishers, to readers around the world, providing a global, free-access arena for spotlighting the genre in an era of shrinking coverage among mainstream print publications. TNB Fiction has its finger on the pulse of a vibrant new generation of writers, as well as established literary greats whose work continues to shape the future dialogue of literary culture. Fiction Editor Rachael Warecki lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review, The Masters Review, Midwestern Gothic, and elsewhere, and has received residency invitations from the Wellstone Center and Ragdale. She holds an MFA in Fiction from Antioch University Los Angeles and is currently at work on a novel.

2 responses to “Sam Lipsyte: The TNB Self-Interview”

  1. This made me so happy I don’t know how to express it. Except by leaving this dumb comment. But still!

  2. Gina Fattore says:

    Yes, still! “We have to try, though. ” Don’t undercut your own comment. Give yourself a hug instead.

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