Sam Lipsyte interviews himself

The author of "The Ask" and "The Fun Parts" explains his writing process and why he's such a slob

Published April 6, 2013 9:00PM (EDT)

Sam Lipsyte
Sam Lipsyte

This article originally appeared on The Nervous Breakdown.

The Nervous Breakdown What 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 100 years or more, if they have years, or numbers like 100, 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, OK? 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.

By Sam Lipsyte

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Fiction Sam Lipsyte The Ask The Fun Parts The Nervous Breakdown