“In the Meantime”–shorthand dialogue

Lippincott, Robin. “In the Meantime”, The Toby Press, 2007.

“Shorthand Dialog”

Amos Lassen

In his third novel, Robin Lippincott gives us a look at three friends who lead remarkably unremarkable lives. The friendship of Luke, Starling and Kathryn is fast unlike their lives, In 1931, somewhere in a small Midwestern town in a day in summer, three five year olds begin a friendship that is to span a lifetime.  They share the dream of moving to Manhattan one day and there they will share an apartment. When they arrive, Kathryn goes to college, Luke takes a job in the mail room of a major publishing house and Star, who is biracial, pursues an acting career only to find out this heritage prevents him from getting gigs.

Written in the style reminiscent of Virginia Woolfe with its freedom and directness, Lippincott gives intense character studies and then has his characters interact. He takes us through their high school years and then shoots ahead to the 1950’s and ultimately to the new century and shows how hard they try to fit into the larger culture.

The book becomes very special by the author’s use of dialog that he develops between his characters. The complicated bonds of their friendship and their love lives are realistic and Lippincott does not fall victim to sentimentality. In showing us his characters, he provides incredible insights to truth.

“In the Meantime” is a look at an era of American history very different from today. His characters are drawn with such great detail and intensity that it is if we have always known them. Kathryn is the oldest of the three and she is bright and honest with thoughts of becoming a nurse. Starling does not have a father but he knows that he is biracial even if he has no idea what that really means. What he does know is that he wants to be a star. Luke has no idea of what he wants aside from wanting his older brother who is dead to return to life.

The three experience childhood with all of the joy and all of the pain but upon reaching puberty and sexual maturation, their friendship is nearly destroyed. After the second World War, they run after their dreams to Manhattan where they discover prejudice and racism.

During their friendship some of their dreams come into being and some are lost forever. What stays between the three is their love for each other. The book spans seventy years of friendship and at the end only one of the three is alive to tell their story….and what a story it is!!!

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