Friday, July 29, 2011

Reading about Robert and Fannie Lipsyte

It is often very difficult to remember all of the details of what we read. In the course of time I have likely read hundreds of books, newspaper and magazine articles. I usually make it my business to at least look at the author’s name, but it is quite likely that I will forget it shortly after reading the piece. For many years I have read the New York Times on Sunday. In the 1990s I vaguely remember reading columns in the New York Times by Robert Lipsyte where he spoke about the long illness of his mother. Since Lipsyte is not a common surname I readily determined that his mother was Fanny Lipsyte who taught 6th grade at PS 139. I have reported on my PS 139 days in this journal.

Back then students were grouped by their reading levels. Mrs. Lipsyte’s class was the highest level, while I was in Mrs. Berger’s class whose scores were somewhat lower. The two classrooms were next to each other. Mrs. Berger told Mrs. Lipsyte that I lived near the Rego Park Post office. I lived close enough to the school to go home for lunch. On several occasions I went to the post office for Mrs. Lipstye. I distinctively remember her giving me a big hug after I ran errands for her.

Recently I heard about Robert’s memoir:

Lipsyte, Robert. An Accidental Sportswriter: A Memoir. New York, NY: Ecco, 2011

I had to satisfy my curiosity and bought the book. I actually purchased the electronic version and downloaded it to my Kindle. This way I didn’t have to run from one bookstore to another looking for it. For this reason Borders is going out of business.

I am not writing a critical book review for my journal. My readers may want to read this review in Sports Illustrated.

I enjoyed the book and especially admired the author’s honesty and objectivity. Many autobiographies are very slanted, but Mr. Lipstye admitted his failures. Besides being a sportswriter, he wrote novels and was the host of a public affairs show called The Eleventh Hour.

As I read the book I looked out for passages about his growing up in Rego Park. He did talk about Halsey Jr. High School (I went to rival Russell Sage JHS) and Forest Hills High School where he graduated about 10 years before I did. He did write about his parents. I highly recommend this book.

My readers should also check out his web site at

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