Synopses & Reviews
The bad news was bad. I was dying. I was dying of something no one had ever died of before. I was dying of something absolutely, fantastically new.
The Subject Steve is a dark, dazzling, and totally original satire on human mortality and our desperate efforts to evade it. Meet Steve (not his real name), a Special Case, in truth a Terminal Case, and the eponymous antihero of Sam Lipsytes savagely funny first novel. Steve has been informed by his two doctors, the Philosopher and the Mechanic, that he is dying of a condition of unquestioned fatality but no discernible physical cause. Eager to brand a new plague with their names, they call it Goldfarb-Blackstone Preparatory Extinction Syndrome, or PREXIS for short.
The news that this perfectly ordinary postmodern citizen bitter ex-husband, quasi-deadbeat father, midlife adman, creator of such resonant dot.com slogans as Reality Is for Those Who Dream and How Did You Like Tomorrow? is dying of something that might well be boredom sets off a media frenzy. When his physicians are exposed as frauds, but not his death sentence, he betakes himself upstate to the Center for Nondenominational Recovery and Redemption, founded and ruled by the shadowy and brutal caregiver Heinrich of Newark. From there he will travel to the desert, where the success of a cultish media empire will rest on his demise. But nothing will alter the Subject Steves inevitable rendezvous with those twin banes of humankind, death and synergy.
With the publication of this novel, by turns manic, ebullient and exquisitely deadpan, Sam Lipsyte enters the company of the master American satirists. It is a dark comedy for overlit times.
"I laughed out loud, and I never laugh out loud. You'll want to rest up before reading this one. And after. Thank you, Sam." Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club and Choke
"Lipsyte has come up with an intriguing experimental concept, but the absence of coherent, linear plot means the commentary must be particularly sharp and interesting, and much of what Lipsyte offers is rambling, self-absorbed and at times just plain annoying. The troubles of the alienated and estranged offer plenty of opportunities for an adventurous approach, but much of what Lipsyte submits is familiar, a mannered echo, product of a sensibility halfway between Lish and Vonnegut." Publishers Weekly
"Glossy and outlandish, but undeniably fun and dead-on, this first novel will draw fans of Chuck Palahniuk." Booklist
"[Lipsyte] hurtles into the long form with a theme worthy of Kafka or Beckett, then just hurtles without his theme acquiring any sort of depth or richness. His opening pages show such talent and strength that one draws back from giving the complete work the huge sigh of vexation it probably deserves-though Lipsyte's fans may well enough hail this fiasco as a triumph....One wants a strong theme, a big chord, something to hold interest but gets only battered logic in shipshape language. Like nonalcoholic beer or wine: a nice taste but the elevator never rises." Kirkus Reviews
"On just about every page of this book there is a line that makes your eyes widen with amazement at Sam Lipsyte's sheer wit and audacity. You sit up a little and suppress the urge to write the thing down on a piece of paper and tape it to the wall. It's like Lipsyte has invented a special liquid whose effect, when poured over the world of familiars, i.e., the recognizable world of now, is to make all the bullshit fall away. It's strong, acidic stuff, but it works wonders." Thomas Beiler, author of Seduction Theory and The Sleepover Artist
"Sam Lipsyte is a gifted stylist, precise, original, devious, and very funny. In a time when the language of most novels is dead on arrival, this book, about a dying man, is startlingly alive." Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides
"...funny, rambling, too-cute, too-clever-by-half, but nonetheless weirdly effective first novel." Adrienne Miller, Esquire
(read the entire Esquire review
About the Author
Sam Lipsyte is the author of one previous book, Venus Drive, a collection of short stories that was named one of the top twenty-five books of the year by the Voice Literary Supplement. His work has appeared in Open City, The New York Times Book Review, Slate, and The Quarterly, and he has worked as an editor of the online magazine Feed. He lives in the Astoria section of Queens, New York.