“Let go of your illusions and don’t confuse them with dreams,” novelist Devan Sipher recently told a New School writing class in the Village. His favorite quote inspired him to achieve his dream of publishing a novel and his funny fictional debut The Wedding Beat just hit the stores. Sipher tapped into his experience as a journalist who lived and breathed everything wedding for five years writing The New York Times “Vows” column. Sipher covered the weddings of a Rockefeller, a “Nanny Diaries” author, a “Will and Grace” director, and most scandalously, a couple who were married to others when they met.
Sipher is engaging. He is youthful both in appearance and spirit, conveying this in person and in his novel. Uniquely told from a male’s perspective, The Wedding Beat is a rollicking ride as we follow the main character, Gavin Greene, on his quest to find the girl of his dreams that he let slip away. Like a soufflé, his story is light, satisfying, and rises to perfection. It is sure to entertain anyone, whether they’ve been smitten or bitten in the name of love.
Sipher credits his parents for his success at The Times. Growing up in Southfield Michigan, his parents consistently asked him to prove what he learned in school or heard from friends. “My parents made me fact check everything long before I had heard the word. Without knowing it, they were training me to be a journalist.”
There were three things Sipher thought he wanted to be – a doctor, rabbi or writer. He had brief stints in both medical and rabbinical school before he realized writing was his destiny. “Being a doctor or rabbi is largely about finding ways to communicate to people in a way that improves their lives,” he said. “I try to bring that same desire to writing with the goal of reaching a larger audience.”
Before graduating from the University of Michigan, he excelled in playwriting, and won the National University Musical Competition sponsored by Broadway Music Inc. The year famed New York composer Steven Schwartz applied he was only a finalist. Yet, he was in for a big surprise when he ventured one class in fiction writing where his professor told him to “never write fiction again.” He didn’t, until he wrote The Wedding Beat.
When he left the Midwest to get his MFA at NYU’s Tisch School of Dramatic Writing, Sipher felt that Greenwich Village was the center of the universe, he told the class. The 47 year old NYU graduate loves running along the Hudson. His favorite Village haunts include Two Boots, Piccolo Angolo, Art Bar and for a date, Alta. When St Vincent’s shut down, it deprived the residents of a much needed facility and robbed citizens in little ways. Sipher lamented, “Until they boarded up St. Vincent’s, the south-facing steps were my own personal Highline.”
Working on two more books, Sipher seems to have it all. However, there’s a void in his life, since, ironically, the romantic wedding chronicler has yet to find the one for him. When asked to describe his ideal woman, he joked that many years ago he made eye contact with West Village actress Sarah Jessica Parker, and didn’t introduce himself. Now he is looking for someone with a quick mind, kind heart and a great smile. “But what I’m really looking for is what I think everyone’s looking for: someone I don’t want to live my life without, who feels the same way about me.”
Sipher will be reading at NYU’s bookstore June 20th 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
McNally Jackson booksellers August 1 from 7 to 9 pm