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Sara Lippmann

Sara Lippmann received a BA from Brown and an MFA from The New School. She has written for national magazines, taught college English, and currently co-hosts the Sunday Salon, a monthly reading series at Jimmy's 43 in New York's East Village. A former mentor for Girls Write Now and a recipient of a 2012 Fellowship in Fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts she lives with her husband and children in Brooklyn.

Blurbs

''Sara Lippmann s prose is unflinching. Her female characters see motherhood, womanhood and self-hood through a raw and funny lens: I am about to cry, when I laugh. Terribly wonderful and exciting work!''

– Rachel Sherman, author of Living Room and The First Hurt

''Sara Lippmann's stories are visceral and gripping, venturing into dark places with sharp wit and a gimlet eye. A lot of them gave me bad dreams, and I mean that in a good way. This is a memorable debut collection.''

– Alix Ohlin, author of Inside

''Sara Lippmann's Doll Palace is a sexy, sad and fearless collection full of humor, pathos and compassion. Her scalpel-sharp stories are raw emotional gems, blinding in their precision. Lippmann understands the pumping highways and byways of the human heart like a seasoned traveler.''

– Jonathan Papernick, author of The Book of Stone

''Sara Lippmann is the sort of writer who can drop you with a line. Of a guy wearing a baby in a harness, she writes, 'He yanks on the baby's stubby toes like he is milking it.' I'd read a hell of lot of pages to find a sentence that practically nails an entire generation. Good news is this book has such lines on every page. Lippmann is a fearless writer, and these are concise and deadly stories.''

– Peter Orner, author of Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge

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Featured Book

Doll Palace

The Whole World Is Cry

09/30/14

The twenty-three stories in Sara Lippmann’s debut collection, Doll Palace, published by Dock Street Press are a lesson in voice. And depth. And characterization. And sentence-making. The writing is so superb I want to recommend this book to teachers of short fiction. But really, it’s about damned good storytelling. It’s a book for readers, first and foremost.

The collection opens with one of my favorite Lippmann stories: “Whipping Post,”originally published in Our Stories. The story is a brief and powerful look back at an incident at a state fair when the narrator states, “I was so young I jingled.” Lippmann’s narrators are smart, observant, sometimes world-weary and never self-pitying. The voice throughout is strong, direct, honest, while at the same time loose, conversational.

One imagines sitting across from the one friend we all have who has been through some shit and has a thing or two to say about it. As in lines like this, from another favorite from the book,“The Best of Us”: “The day we found out there was nothing wrong with me, I cheated on Neill.” Okay, tell me more. Please.

I love the way Sara Lippmann’s characters talk to each other. How she moves them around. I love being privy to all the couple-trouble, teen angst, existential terror, the women and mothers’conversations, the veiled and unveiled threats, and subtle flirtations. These people and their secrets. They’re all so real I feel I know them, even the teen girl who performs as her knife throwing father’s human target. Who writes a story about a girl like that? Well, Sara Lippmann does.

Very often bravado masks a certain vulnerability. A brokenness that’s not asking for your sympathy, only that you pay attention. When the mask finally comes off it’s breathtaking and Lippmann delivers these moments with impeccable timing, as in this moment from the story “The Best of Us”:

“I wasn’t always like this, I want to shout. I once was interesting and alive and somewhat likable and not the least needy, not this pathetic shell, although I’m not sure how true that is. Maybe I’ve always been this way, only everything is forgivable when you’re young, like poor fashion taste. She wraps me up in her flesh and I stay there long enough to feel my heart thrum: change your life, change your life, change your life.”

In the story, “Houseboy,” Lippmann writes the voice of a young former officer in the Israeli Arm who now works as houseboy for a wealthy family in the U.S. It’s a risky choice that pays off. I recommend reading this particular story aloud just to marvel at the music she achieves here:

“I vision Bette. There is something shell shockage about her. . . . Bette have shoulders ripe as Jericho oranges from once upon a time. I do not go there. Where do I go? The whole world is cry. Water flood her cup, spill her wrist, soften the elbow, I drain in tears, but when she close the tap to breathe I pray maybe she have place inside her deep rise and fall of lungs for me.”

There are the sentences themselves, swoon-worthy and sharp:

“Leather sandals hung from cords like cured meat.” (from “Jew”)

“It’s his enlarged prostate, mom says. She slides on her oven mitt, speaks to the roast she’s been basting. Looks like Blade Master’s sprung a leak.” (from “Target Girl”)

“Snow fell from the sky like tiny stars. He was a man.” (from “The Last Resort”)

“There’s something to be said for people who know exactly what they’re doing.” (from “Everyone Has Your Best Interests At Heart”)

“Later, Frank will become my summer lens.” (from “Human Interest”)

“Free-loving goddesses traipse through the grass in a yogic haze, breasts cupped in cabbage leaves, their hair trailing like kite strings and dip into wide, glittery pools. We are in the desert. This is called a mirage.” (from “The Best of Us”)

These are stories filled with talk, conversations, recitations, memories, flirtations (often dangerous ones) and hard-won epiphanies I think what I love best about these stories though is their refusal to dot every i. There are no simple answers and lessons aren’t always learned. A deft writer, Lippmann displays control over her narratives even as she achieves a certain wildness and strangeness that both fascinates and feels entirely true. I love the fearlessness of these stories (see “Target Girl” and “Everyone Has Your Best Interests at Heart” and “Babydollz” and “Talisman”among others).

An inescapable sense of danger and vulnerability permeates many of the stories of the collection. There is so  much growing up to be done. Lippmann avoids sentimentality. Rather, she tells her stories with such grace, sensitivity, and compassion as to evoke the same response in her readers. These stories, and the characters who inhabit them are unforgettable. My biggest challenge in writing this recommendation was reining myself in. I could go on and on. But as the young woman from the story “Come See For Yourself” observes: “Some things fill you up and you don’t need to say another word about it.”

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