I loved this course. I would have appreciated more feedback on my writing assignments but I genuinely enjoyed this seminar just for the sake of listening to Professor Lipsyte talk about different works of fiction. I came to a better understanding of what makes good writing solely from listening to him explain the successful aspects of different short stories and novels. Everything we read was great. I really appreciated that he didn't make us submit write ups on the works and trusted us to do the readings and come to class prepared. He allowed enough space for everyone to talk and also maintained a good balance of commenting on the works himself. Professor Lipyste has a wonderful aura and a great perspective on life in general. Just listening to him talk about his observations and perceptions of the world makes me understand why he is such a great writer.
A great writer, an okay professor. Sam Lipsyte has a lot of valuable insights to teach about writing, style, characters, and connecting sentences. He gives a really good reading list and tells you about 'webs of writers' so that if you like a book or a story you can find others like it. Sometimes he's even funny. But realistically, he doesn't take his job as a teacher very seriously. He says come visit him in office hours, says just enough of the right things so that how little he cares isn't completely obvious, but anyone looking for a genuine educational experience will immediately realize that his classes or students are not priorities for him. His lectures are improvised and meandering. He hardly gives any feedback on written assignments. He takes forever to answer emails. The creative writing department has so many amazing classes to offer, and so many dedicated teachers. Don't waste your time on a 'meh'.
Obviously a smart guy, but I wish he had been a little more proactive in guiding class discussion--it got pretty thin sometimes, and it felt like that was because the class didn't have a very good grip on the story. To my understanding, the stories were selected and grouped because they were good examples of a particular aspect of writing or technique, but it felt like we stopped talking about those things midway through the term. I also wasn't a fan of the story selection, although I have the sense that I'm in the minority there. I did like the way he responded to written work, though--he was unafraid to say if something was unoriginal, or not that funny--it sort of seems like a lot of writing profs are squeamish about questioning the basics about pieces (is this original/interesting?),.and he wasn't.
Prof. Lipsyte is a really good creative writing professor, and I enjoyed his class more and more as the semester went on. His dry sense of humor make the class really funny, and as a published author he definitely knows his stuff. Plus, he encourages us to visit him during office hours to talk more about our latest writing. He's usually really quick at getting you feedback for your work, and he writes lengthy comments on everything you turn in. He's also pretty laid back, so if your printer breaks down and you can't get your story printed in time for class, he'll probably just tell you to bring it in tomorrow. As long as you're willing to speak up during workshops and put real effort into your writing, you'll get a lot out of his class.
I would definitly recommend taking his class. Prof. Lipsyte gave excellent criticism gently and went out of his way to make himself available to us. He's also the director of undergrad writing for GS and a professor at the School of Art.