Vice Interviews Sam Lipsyte

Vice interviews Sam Lipsyte–good stuff. From the interview, here’s Lipsyte on writing comedy–

The page is very different than what a stand-up comic does. A comedian has a physical body—gestures, vocal intonations, double takes—whatever they’re going to do to bring across the comedy. They can make a phrase funny just by the way they say it. Authors don’t have any of those tools at our disposal, so we have to find lingual ways to do it. So much of it is how you build to something, how wide you make a loop of description before you veer off and land somewhere totally unrelated. You have to learn how that rhythm works in prose. It has to be something you feel.

I don’t want it to be too jokey, I don’t want it to be making claims for itself as funny, but then you must laugh because it is a funny moment. I pursue… something strange, usually, in every paragraph. It may be funny, or it may be something I don’t think is that funny. I’ve had people come up to me and say, “That was so funny!” and I think, “Dude, that’s the most devastating moment in the book.” I’ve realized that it’s both. In my work the funniest thing is usually the most devastating thing, and that’s where they play with each other.

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“Welcome” — Deb Olin Unferth

“Welcome,” a short story by Deb Olin Unferth, published in Vice’s annual fiction issue. A sample–

I finally figured it out and I said it: You want me to leave?

I said this because I did have small evidences. The day before they had gotten a little meaner, one of them especially, the bigger one, the one who had earlier been my champion. But I didn’t understand. I had been having such a nice time. I was bewildered. Why did they suddenly not love me?

And then the next morning it happened again. The big one had a mean look on his face. The other figured she didn’t need to have an ugly look on her face because the big one was taking care of it, so she could just stand to the side and look on, bemused. But I was so stupid, I still didn’t understand. I looked at the littler one as if to say, Why is he acting this way?