When people ask me about books I love, I usually name Home Land by Sam Lipsyte. But I was starting to forget why I liked it so much, so I reread it for the first time in 8 years.
It’s funny. It’s sarcastic. It has nothing to do with Homeland Security or the show.
And it’s also filled with status updates.
The premise is that Lewis “Teabag” Miner is a loser stuck working as a P/T busboy at his father’s banquet hall. Lewis has a rivalry with his old high school principal who refuses to publish his alumni updates to his fellow Catamounts. Because of that, the book is framed as Lewis’ rogue updates to his fellow classmates, detailing his sightings of “notable” classmates around town, and offering his own personal opinion about their failings and foibles. Lewis doesn’t know if they’ll ever be read, but he writes them with that audience in mind, which makes it different than an epistolary novel.
Keep in mind, this book came out in 2004, before Twitter and before Facebook had reached critical mass. If Lipsyte had created this a few years later, I’m sure he would’ve gone with something like a social networking platform. However, the quaintness of the setup would have been gone in that scenario.
The book strays from that structure a little bit and eventually becomes a more typical 1st-person novel. But the awareness is always there–that the character is aware of an audience. But the ironic part of the story is the aggrandizement of the Lewis’ own self-worth.
It’s a humorous book, like most of Lipsyte’s work .