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Home Land



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About The Author

Sam LipsyteSam Lipsyte

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 the novel The Subject Steve. He lives in Astoria, Queens.

photo: © Robert Reynolds

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Reading Group Gold

1. Despite glowing reviews for his previous

books, Sam Lipsyte found it enormously

difficult to find a publisher for Home Land

in America. The book, in fact, appeared in

England a year ago. Is it possible that

the novel’s themes of confusion and loss

frightened publishers in an age that hungers

for moral certainty? Or is it just that anxiety,

spiritual fatigue and chronic failure don’t sell

like they used to?

2. One literary journal refused to publish a portion

of this novel because the editors deemed

it too dirty. They published a different section,

but that’s not the point. The point is did you

find any part of this novel too dirty? Would you

admit it if you had?

3. Samuel Richardson popularized the epistolary

novel with Pamela and Clarissa in the 1740s.

There were many famous examples of the

form to follow, though I can’t really think of

them right now. I feel tired, shitty. Why is

Lipsyte trying to revive a form better suited to

illicit passions and court intrigues than to the

pathetic yearnings of a man known as

Teabag? What kind of an epistolary novel is it

if nobody ever writes back?

4. “How did you get to be such a whackjob,

Lewis?”, Daddy Miner asks his son. Discuss

the dynamic between fathers and sons in this

novel. Does the dynamic change? Does the

dynamic ever change?

5. Early in the novel, Lewis describes the birth of

his mother’s feminist consciousness. How

would you characterize Lewis’s feelings about

the women in his life, especially Gwendolyn?

Are you sure?

6. The author of Home Land undertook thirty

years of research for this novel, though he didn’t

know that this was what he was doing at the

time. Can you think of a good discussion

question that might pertain to this fact?

7. Do you think it is possible that Home Land

might be an allegory of some kind? Discuss.

8. Was that a satisfying discussion?

9. The unreliable narrator is an enduring device in

literature. Why do you think Lipsyte failed to

employ it? Or did he?

10. Do you live in New Jersey? Do you think the

New Jersey depicted in this book has anything

to do with the real, actual New Jersey, as it is

depicted on popular television shows?

11. Could Home Land, in fact, be some sort of

parable? Or maybe a fable?

12. The character The Kid, Teabag’s imaginary

friend, is based on an actual figure who

roamed the American South and Midwest

sometime after the Civil War. His real name

was Polton Yendis and very little is known

about him except that some historians credit

him with coining the term “Mansauce.” Do you

masturbate?

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