Author and teacher. Harvard Extension School, writing teacher, 2004—. Spalding University, teacher.
Yaddo fellowships, 1997, 1998; Macdowell fellowship; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Book Awards honor book, American Library Association, 2000, for Mr. Dalloway: A Novella.
The Real, True Angel: Stories, Fleur-de-Lis Press (Louisville, KY), 1996.
Mr. Dalloway: A Novella, Sarabande Books (Louisville, KY), 1999.
Our Arcadia: An American Watercolor, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.
In the Meantime, Toby Press (London, England), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including the New York Times Book Review, American Voice, Literary Review, Provincetown Arts, and Christopher Street.
Novelist and short-story writer Robin Lippincott is noted for his experiments with narrative in works that deal with gay themes and characters. In his debut book, The Real, True Angel: Stories, he gathers ten tales filled with dancers, academics, artists, and writers—who often populate his fiction—in a collection that touches on themes ranging from love to the meaning of art. Although New York Times Book Review contributor Lisa Jennifer Selzman called this an "uneven first collection," she also noted that although a few of the stories are "weak," others "proceed with lyrical verve" and display "tenderly molded flashes of truth." Fortunately, later books by Lippincott have received a more positive reception, especially Mr. Dalloway: A Novella.
In Mr. Dalloway, Lippincott develops a story focusing on Richard Dalloway from Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. Picking up on that family several years after the point where Woolf's book ends, Lippincott focuses on the husband instead of the wife, Clarissa. Similar to Woolf's work, Mr. Dalloway takes place within one day and is told from many perspectives. Busy planning for his and his wife's thirtieth anniversary, Richard Dalloway also finds his thoughts straying to his male lover, Robbie Davis, who threatens to make an appearance at the party. Clarissa, meanwhile, is wandering London, thinking of her longtime marriage. Robert E. Brown, in a review for Library Journal, stated that the book is a "real treat for readers of literary fiction." New York Times Book Review critic Bruce Allen was less impressed, however, and called the book an "earnest and attenuated novel," further noting that "little happens, and much is needlessly repeated." Other reviewers had more positive praise for Mr. Dalloway, including a Publishers Weekly contributor, who noted that Lippincott's "virtuoso handling of the inner life of [the book's] characters should delight more than just Woolf enthusiasts." The same contributor concluded: "This is imitation in its finest form." Booklist writer James Klise also commended the novel, observing that "Lippincott is faithful to the interior voices, rhythms, and themes of the original, yet his exploration is fresh."
In his 2001 novel, Our Arcadia: An American Watercolor, Lippincott gathers a diverse group of people whom Klise described in another Booklist review as "artists, art lovers, and outcasts" who all share a large house on Cape Cod from 1928 to 1943. Named "True House," the residence was purchased by a recently divorced couple, Nora Hartley and Lark Martin, who is tired of his bad romantic choices in Manhattan. True House becomes home to an assortment of gay and straight friends who form a commune with a bohemian lifestyle. Again, Lippincott employs a loose narrative structure, eschewing plot for impressionistic incident and a collection of short scenes. Klise found Our Arcadia, which is twice as long as Mr. Dalloway, "alternately fascinating and maddening." In a review of the book for Lambda Book Report, Randall Curb also voiced disappointment, noting that though Lippincott "has given us an earnest, well-intentioned novel," he also produced one that is "self-infatuated" and "condescending." A contributor for Publishers Weekly, however, felt the author succeeded in his gamble, creating a "touching, delicately constructed second novel" that is "supple, graceful … [and] deeply satisfying."
Lippincott's fourth book, In the Meantime, published in 2007, delves into the intertwined lives of three friends over seven decades. At the age of five, Kathryn, Luke, and Starling first meet each other in 1931 while living in a small Midwestern town. The three become friends quickly, and after the end of World War II, they move to New York City together. There, Kathryn attends college, while Luke works his way up the corporate ladder at a major publishing house. Starling pursues a career in acting, only to find that being biracial keeps him from landing starring roles. Throughout their lives, they see each other through life's disappointments and triumphs.
Most critics were impressed by In the Meantime. A contributor to Internet Bookwatch called it "a seminal work of literary skill that fully engages from first page to last." "The book's pleasures outweigh the many moments of overreaching," stated a Publishers Weekly reviewer. However, a Kirkus Reviews critic noted that while the book was "nicely phrased, Lippincott's melancholy, self-consciously instructive tale offers limited insights." On the contrary, Library Journal critic Jim Dwyer stated that In the Meantime is a "poignant, intimate, and highly nuanced novel with nary a false word or feeling."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Advocate, June 22, 1999, review of Mr. Dalloway: A Novella, p. 131.
Booklist, June 1, 1999, James Klise, review of Mr. Dalloway, p. 1786; June 1, 2001, Klise, review of Our Arcadia: An American Watercolor, p. 1847.
Internet Bookwatch, May 1, 2008, review of In the Meantime.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2007, review of In the Meantime.
Lambda Book Report, June, 2001, Randall Curb, "ET in Arcadia … or Maybe Not," review of Our Arcadia, p. 35.
Library Journal, June 15, 1999, Robert E. Brown, review of Mr. Dalloway, p. 108; August 1, 2007, Jim Dwyer, review of In the Meantime, p. 70.
New York Times Book Review, January 26, 1997, Lisa Jennifer Selzman, review of The Real, True Angel: Stories, p. 18; August 1, 1999, Bruce Allen, review of Mr. Dalloway, p. 13.
Publishers Weekly, June 14, 1999, review of Mr. Dalloway, p. 52; June 18, 2001, review of Our Arcadia, p. 58; August 20, 2007, review of In the Meantime, p. 44.
Pshares Web log,http://pshares.blogspot.com/ (September 6, 2007), author interview.