David Lipsky

David Lipsky
David Lipsky
Born David Lipsky
July 20, 1965 (1965-07-20) (age 46)
New York City, New York
Occupation Novelist, journalist, short story writer
Nationality American
Period 1985-present
Notable work(s) Absolutely American (2003)
The Art Fair (1996)

David Lipsky (born 20 July 1965) is an American author. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1983[1] and Brown University in 1987, and holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University. Lipsky is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone Magazine.[2] He received a National Magazine Award for writing about David Foster Wallace in 2009. He currently lives in New York City.


Background and education

David Lipsky was born in New York City, and is the son of the painter Pat Lipsky.[3] David graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1983. He graduated magna cum laude from Brown University,[4] studying with the writer John Hawkes. He received his M.A. from Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with the novelist John Barth. Lipsky currently teaches creative writing at the M.F.A. program at New York University.

As an undergraduate, Lipsky published his story "Three Thousand Dollars" in the New Yorker magazine;[5] it was selected by Raymond Carver as one of the Best American Short Stories of 1986. Carver was surprised by the author's youth, noting in his introduction, "I confess to not having read David Lipsky before this. Have I been asleep and missed some stories of his, or maybe even a novel or two? I don't know. I do know I intend to pay attention from now on."[6]


As a graduate student, Lipsky wrote the stories that would become his first book, Three Thousand Dollars (1989). The novelist John Gregory Brown explained, "It was kind of apparent that Lipsky might have the brightest future of anyone [here]."[7] The book was well-received upon publication, with the trade publication Booklist summarizing, "Critics loved Lipsky's short story collection";[8] the author was seen to possess "unlimited depth and range of vision",[9] and the stories were compared to the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald.[10] The Los Angeles Times, while noting the book's "astonishing insights into the New York art world," concluded, "Lipsky has given his contemporaries a general autobiography, one that will fit the majority with only minor adjustments."

His novel The Art Fair (1996), a bildungsroman composed of a number of autobiographical elements, tells the story of Richard and Joan Freely—a New York artist and her precocious son. The novel won rave reviews and was named a Time Magazine Best Book of the Year. The work earned Lipsky comparisons to writers Michael Chabon and Harold Brodkey.[11] The New York Times called the novel "riveting",[12] The New Yorker described it "a darkly comic love story",[13] People noted, "Lipsky’s portrayal of the art world is unblinking, his portrayal of the ties between parent and child deeply affecting";[14] the critic Francine Prose called the book's "Darwinian" milieu a "testament to Lipsky's skill"[15] and James Atlas wrote "the novel perfectly captures artists and dealers, the tiny gestures of cruelty that confirm or withhold status."[3] The trade publication Library Journal summarized, "The praise has poured as thick as impasto."[16]

Lipsky's non-fiction book Absolutely American (2003) was written after the author spent four years living at West Point. The book's genesis was a piece Lipsky wrote for Rolling Stone—the longest article published in that magazine since Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. As Newsweek noted, composition of the book required "14,000 pages of interview transcripts, 60 notebooks and four pairs of boots";[17] the magazine called the book "addictive," and Lev Grossman in Time wrote that it was "fascinating, funny, and tremendously well-written. Take a good look: this is the face America turns to most of the world, and until now it's one that most of us have never seen."[18] In the New York Times Book Review, David Brooks called the book "wonderfully told," praising it as both "a superb description of modern military culture, and one of the most gripping accounts of university life I have read."[2] The work was a New York Times best-seller. Lipsky sold the television rights to the story to Disney, for a possible ABC television series.[19]

In April, 2010, Lipsky published Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, about a five day road trip with the writer David Foster Wallace. In Time Magazine, Lev Grossman wrote, "The transcript of their brilliant conversations reads like a two-man Tom Stoppard play or a four-handed duet scored for typewriter."[20] The Atlantic Monthly called the work, "far-reaching, insightful, very funny, profound, surprising, and awfully human";[21] at National Public Radio, Michael Schaub described the book as "a startlingly sad yet deeply funny postscript to the career of one of the most interesting American writers of all time."[22] Newsweek noted, "For readers unfamiliar with the sometimes intimidating Wallace oeuvre, Lipsky has provided a conversational entry point into the writer's thought process. It's odd to think that a book about Wallace could serve both the newbies and the hard-cores, but here it is."[23] Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, described the book as "rollicking" and "compellingly real,"[24] and Laura Miller in Salon called it "exhilarating."[25]

Not all the reception was positive, however, One reviewer noted it was "interesting, but not brilliant," and noted "Lipsky's melodramatic comments."[26]

Awards and honors

  • 2010 "Best Books of the Year," NPR
  • 2009 National Magazine Award
  • 2009 The Best American Magazine Writing
  • 2005 Lambert Fellowship
  • 2003 "Best Books of the Year," Time Magazine
  • 2003 "Best Books of the Year," Amazon
  • 2003 "Best Books of the Year," Providence Journal-Bulletin
  • 2003 "Best Books of the Year," San Jose Mercury News
  • 2003 "Best Books of the Year," New York Daily News
  • 2003 "Eleven Most Remarkable Things In Culture This Month," Esquire Magazine
  • 2003 "Times Notable Book," The New York Times
  • 1999 GLAAD Media Award
  • 1988 Henfield/Transatlantic Review Award
  • 1986 MacDowell Fellow
  • 1986 The Best American Short Stories



  • Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace (2010)
  • Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point (2003)


  • The Art Fair (1996)

Short stories

  • Three Thousand Dollars (1986)


  • The Best American Magazine Writing (2009)
  • The Best American Short Stories (1986)


  1. ^ Gross, Max (2003-07-04). "Rolling Stone Reporter Gets Inside Peek at West Point". Forward. http://www.forward.com/articles/7605/. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  2. ^ a b Brooks, David (2003-07-13). "Huah!". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F04E2DE113AF930A25754C0A9659C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2/. Retrieved 2008-01-18. 
  3. ^ a b Atlas, James, "The Art Fair," Vogue, June, 1996.
  4. ^ Gale Reference Team, "David Lipsky," Contemporary Authors (Biography), Chicago: Thompson Gale, 2006.
  5. ^ Klinghoffer, David, "Three Thousand Dollars," National Review, September 29, 1989.
  6. ^ Carver, Raymond, The Best American Short Stories of 1986, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986. p. xv.
  7. ^ Duffy, Jim, "Absolutely Unexpected," Johns Hopkins Magazine, November, 2003.
  8. ^ Seaman, Donna, "The Art Fair," Booklist, May 15, 1996.
  9. ^ Combrey, Richard, "Reading For A Cold Winter's Night," San Francisco Chronicle, December 31, 1989.
  10. ^ Kendall, Elaine. "Marking the Potholes, Pitfalls for Eighties Youth," Los Angeles Times, December 22, 1989.
  11. ^ Kirkus, "The Art Fair," Kirkus, April 1, 1996.
  12. ^ Eckhoff, Sally, "The Art Fair," The New York Times Book Review, June 9, 1996.
  13. ^ "The Art Fair," The New Yorker, June 24, 1996
  14. ^ Kaufman, Joanne, "The Art Fair," People, July 29, 1996
  15. ^ Prose, Francine, "In Art, Reputation Is Everything," Newsday, May 19, 1996
  16. ^ Library Journal, "The Art Fair," October 1, 1996.
  17. ^ Gegax, Trent, "Getting The Point," Newsweek, July 7, 2003.
  18. ^ Grossman, Lev (2003-07-06). "Long On The Long Gray Line". Time. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1005180,00.html?iid=chix-sphere. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  19. ^ Sauriol, Patrick, "ABC Goes West Point," Variety, August 13, 2003.
  20. ^ Grossman, Lev, "Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself," Time, April 16, 2010.
  21. ^ Kaiser, Menachem, "The Challenge of Writing About David Foster Wallace," The Atlantic, April 22, 2010.
  22. ^ Schaub, Michael (2010-05-07). "A Not-So-Brief Interview With David Foster Wallace". NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126483112. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  23. ^ Wallis, Seth Colter, "My Dinners With David," Newsweek, April 22, 2010.
  24. ^ Publishers Weekly, "Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself," April 4, 2010.
  25. ^ Miller, Laura (2010-04-04). "Road Trip With David Foster Wallace". Salon. http://www.salon.com/books/laura_miller/2010/04/04/although_of_course_you_end_up_becoming_yourself. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  26. ^ He's human after all." Tim Jacobs Globe and Mail Update Published Friday, Apr. 16, 2010

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