Books by David Lipsky

Released: April 13, 2010

"Still, a nicely gossipy inside view of a writer's world and a beautiful yet anguished mind."
My Dinner with Andre in a rental car—Rolling Stone contributing editor Lipsky (Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point, 2003, etc.) turns in a splintered portrait of the late, great novelist. Read full book review >
THE ART FAIR by David Lipsky
Released: May 6, 1996

Self-described Gen-X writer Lipsky (a story collection, Three Thousand Dollars, 1989, and the memoir Late Bloomers, 1994) helps define a genre pioneered by Harold Brodkey and perfected by contemporaries David Leavitt and Michael Chabon—the tale of the disappointed Jewish prince: an upper-middle-class whiner who feels cheated by life's difficulties and continues to exert a puerile omnipotence over all those around him. Lipsky's Oedipal tale of the contemporary art world, set in the 1970s and '80s, begins in familial dysfunction and plays itself out in obsession and creepiness. Promoted as a roman Ö clef, most readers will fail to see the real-life parallels without a scorecard, but that's typical of Lipsky's inflated sense of the entire scene. Richard Freeley, the protective, slightly screwed-up child of a bitter divorce, decides to leave his father and evil shiksa stepmother in California to join his mother, a would-be painter, in Manhattan, where she struggles in a one-bedroom apartment. Nostalgic for ``the boy who'd been enjoying a first- class life,'' Richard suffers with each rejection or snub his mother endures at gallery openings or social events. Dishing on all the petty, competitive, art-world denizens, little Richard eventually worms his way into Brown, but can't give up his role as his mother's manager/protector/escort. Of his first romance, he muses: ``She loved the art world in me. . . . I loved the Westport in her.'' But when he must choose between this ``rich and pretty'' girl and his mother (no easy thing, in his mind), he abandons the WASP goddess to escort his mother through the major event of the title, an art fair in which he displays no little condescension to the unknown artists. The only thing missing from this weird account of art world shenanigans is any sense of the art itself—a pretty significant gap, to be sure. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

Two members of the much-maligned Generation X answer four years of media condescension with a cogent, though flawed, economic analysis. Since 1990, the mainstream media have been scolding the current crop of adult Americans under 30 for their lack of ambition, their immaturity, and their ``clingy'' tendency to move in with their parents after graduation. Lipsky (Three Thousand Dollars, 1989) and Abrams, a New York City attorney, argue that the problems of their generation are neither psychological nor cultural. What distinguishes this generation from those who came of age in past decades, they insist, is a lack of white-collar economic opportunity. The authors explain how federal policies of the 1970s and '80s have affected the prospects of people now in their 20s; their chapter on student loans (examining, for instance, how those loans contributed to rising tuition costs) is particularly convincing. Yet they fail to buttress their arguments with hard numbers: Tracking the job market for graduating college seniors from 1980, they characterize each year as ``okay,'' ``good,'' ``soft,'' or ``awful,'' offering no concrete idea of what percentages those words represent. Where Late Bloomers is even more disappointing, however, is in the authors' reluctance to recognize the limits of a strictly economic analysis. Throughout the book, they equate marriage and children with material success, claiming that their generation delays or eschews such commitments solely for financial reasons, thus ignoring the profound ways in which second- wave feminism and the sexual revolution have changed attitudes toward marriage. Feminism in general gets short shrift, and the sexual revolution is dismissed in less than a page as a misguided experiment. Abrams and Lipsky assume that everyone in their generation wants the same things; given that they're writing about 46 million people, they can't possibly be right. (First serial to Harper's; author tour) Read full book review >