Three Thousand Dollars (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
As a collection of the first work of a young contemporary writer, David Lipsky’s Three Thousand Dollars generally succeeds in presenting a vivid artistic rendition of the experience of growing up, attending college, and leaving college in the northeastern United States in the 1980’s. Five of the stories center on the same character, Richard Freely, and the protagonists of the remaining stories might be described as fictional extensions of Freely’s personality—they are, in effect, variations on the same theme, and they live through the same experiences with which Richard is faced. Thus, even though the stories published in Three Thousand Dollars span Lipsky’s career as an emerging writer—the title story was republished in Best American Short Stories 1986 (1986)—there is a certain coherence to the collection.
Central to the stories about Richard Freely is the relationship between himself and his divorced mother, Joan, with whom the young boy decides to live. All five of these stories deal in one way or another with facing the problems dished out by contemporary American life, as mother and son try not to let things simply “slip by” in a fashion that would alienate them from each other.
In an unusual move, Lipsky decided to arrange in reverse chronological order the stories that cast spotlights on Richard’s growth from a television- and newsmagazine- obsessed boy of eleven to the seemingly smart...
(The entire section is 1774 words.)
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