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Lipsytes light up Library lunch: Father and son talk about the writing life

Dozens of book lovers, several accomplished authors among them, filled the Ram’s Head Inn dining room on Sunday for the Shelter Island Public Library’s Book and Author Luncheon. 

The centerpiece of the event was a dialogue between father and son Robert and Sam Lipsyte, both noted writers, about the writing process and whatever subjects they chose to banter about. “It was really great,” said author Tom Junod. “They were definitely the two smartest people in the room. It was great to see the father-son dynamic.”

Mr. Junod, whose work formed the basis of the movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” about his relationship with children’s TV host Fred Rogers, is an award-winning magazine writer. “It was great to hear them talk about journalism, literature, fiction and teaching,” he said.

He characterized Robert Lipsyte, known to Reporter readers as “Codger” for his blunt and witty columns, as “provocative,” while Sam Lipsyte is adept at “explaining stuff.”

Library Director Terry Lucas said, “It was our 31st Book and Author Luncheon and it was a wonderful event. The weather cooled down, the food was excellent and the Lipsytes, father and son, were a pleasure. Sam read from his latest novel and then Bob asked him questions about his writing and discussed Sam’s earliest book, written when he was a child, about a brave boy who killed his villain father — to the amusement of the audience.”

A novelist and short story writer, Sam Lipsyte has also been a teacher and written about the craft of writing. His current novel, “No One Left to Come Looking for You,” was described by author Jonathan Ames as “his numerous gifts on full display — comedy, heart and heartbreak, effortless prose, wonderful dialogue — all wrapped up in an East Village whodunit circa 1993 … a mirror — or a warning — to the present.”

Islander Robert Lipsyte is an award-winning journalist who, in addition to his work covering the major sports figures of our era at The New York Times for decades, has published numerous Young Adult books and other works of fiction and nonfiction.

The interplay between the father and son, both talented and accomplished authors, was enlightening and entertaining for the guests who joined them in an event to support the Island’s library.