I started reading Sam Lipsyte’s Home Land and immediately put it back down. Was this going to be yet another ironic-er than thou book about a young white male who is obsessed with masturbation? Could I stand it? Well, turns out I could, because once I picked it back up, I couldn’t stop reading it.
This book is funny and ribald and, at times, desperately sad but mostly it is brutally, frankly, genuinely honest–and that is what appeals to me the most. I get the impression that Lipsyte did not hold back on one thing he wanted his protagonist Lewis Miner (aka, Teabag) to say. Could I have done without some of the misogynistic and/or violent bits? Sure. Do they stop me from liking the book as a whole? Nope. I like this book. I like it an awful lot. In fact, there were times that I loved it. It made me laugh. And there were times where I had to stop myself from reading aloud from it to my husband (is there anything more annoying than when someone does this–reads aloud from a book they are in process of reading? How can you ever be in the moment of humor they are in?).
In the end what this book is about is not just the fucked up life of Lewis Miner and his assortment of odd friends. It’s not just about updating old classmates on how life is going. In the end, this book is about how we make it through life and how in the end we might realize that this is all we’ve got: living–one of the members of the sad assortment of our givens (the other one being death). Other than that, we have what we can seize and maybe what we can seize, is love.
The most wonderful and heroic things the anti-hero Lewis does are for love. Such as in the end of the book when he finally punches his friend Gary in the head and why does he do it? He does it because Gary was a jackass about his dead mother, who is, perhaps the only person Lewis has ever fully loved. For it was she who taught him that all important lesson: “The trick is to give unto others that which you mean to seize.”
I’m not going to say that this book is for everyone. But, for what it’s worth, I thoroughly enjoyed it (although I usually skipped the masturbation scenes).