Even when he's not doing his job as a senior secretary at MIT, Robin Lippincott spends much of his time at a keyboard. And it's paying off: he has just had published The Real, True Angel, his first book of short stories.
Mr. Lippincott has been working for Robert C. O'Handley, a senior research associate in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, for 11 years. He has been pursuing a writing career for much longer than that, but it wasn't until he turned 30 that "I realized if I really wanted to be a writer, I'd better start taking myself seriously."
Mr. Lippincott's drive to write "had to do with growing up in a small town in the south and feeling alien there," he explained.
While earning his MFA in creative writing at Vermont College and working at MIT, Mr. Lippincott expanded his writing activities, which included penning book reviews for the Boston Phoenix. His editor was Stephen McCauley, who later became a well-known novelist himself. About eight years ago, Mr. McCauley urged his reviewer to submit writing samples to the New York Times Book Review, and they said `great, we'd love to have you'," Mr. Lippincott recalled.
He now works three days a week at MIT and devotes the rest of his working time to his writing. In addition to his reviews for the New York Times, Mr. Lippincott has had stories, reviews and essays published in The Literary Review, The American Voice, Christopher Street, The Bloomsbury Review, Provincetown Arts and other magazines. He also tutors creative writing students and has written a novel, Mr. Dalloway, now being considered by a publisher, but The Real, True Angel is his first published book.
"It covers a real broad range," he said in describing his collection's subject matter. There is a story of a man in his 70s who knew Virginia Woolf. Another called "Billy's Blues" is a suite of four stories from different characters' points of view. Other pieces are set in Boston, New York and the south.
Published in August in paperback by Fleur-de-Lis Press, The Real, True Angel is available at Wordsworth, the Harvard Book Store and other locations.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 20, 1996.