About Me

Punctuation Rental is the personal website of Bill Tipper. It does say “William Tipper” up there in the URL, but they only call me that at the doctor’s office. I’m a writer and editor, and I live in a part of Brooklyn that was once called Goat Hill, though sadly that’s no longer its name.

I’ve been the Managing Editor of the Barnes & Noble Review since we started publishing online in 2007. If you’ve never been over there, I encourage you to take a look around — we post something worth your time (or at least worth somebody’s time) every day. Shameless, minor boast: In the midst of a long, trenchant article about the state of literary journalism, John Palatella said in The Nation that the BNR was “better edited than any newspaper books section.”

Although most of my responsibilities include watering down other peoples’ prose, if you want to see a bit of what I’ve written for the site, here are some interviews I’ve done with Teddy Wayne, Claire Tomalin, Rob Sheffield and others; I also occasionally review books on subjects like Florence Nightingale and Charles Dickens. I’ve also made some contributions to our humor column, including “Beat Your Child — at Chess”, of which I am still inordinately fond.

Contributors I am privileged to work with regularly include Michael Dirda, Robert Christgau, Katherine A. Powers, Heller McAlpin, James Parker, Daniel Menaker, Maud Newton and many other wonderful writers too numerous to list here. Here’s a recent illustrated piece full of bird skeletons that I was very happy we published.

I studied British and American literature at New York University; while finishing my Ph.D., and after, I taught writing and literature at NYU and at St. John’s University here in New York. I then decided to experience what turned out to be the dying echo of the dot-com boom as the employee of a consulting firm that has long since been absorbed into another consulting firm (which was absorbed, I believe, into another. And so on.) Since that time, I’ve been employed in various capacities at BN.com, which led, happily, to my current role with the BNR.

Personal fascinations include Tarot cards, the technical aspects of 19th-century theater, and otters. I am a proud if junior — and often struggling — member of the Learned League. I believe that XTC is an underrated band, that in a just world C.P. Snow’s The Masters would be the subject of a lavish Masterpiece Theatre miniseries adaptation, and that subway travel is good for the soul.

Follow my frequently-updated (but mostly BN Review-focused) Twitter presence here, or my personal (and less regularly active) one here.

Click here for my Curriculum Vitae, and here to contact me.


Recent Posts

Bird-Eating Tarantula and Giant Centipede Are Friends

With apologies to Arnold Lobel

Bird-Eating Tarantula was walking through the forest, looking for birds to eat. Lurking on the damp underside of a rock, reading a book, he found his friend, Giant Centipede.

Tarantula 2“Hello, Bird-Eating Tarantula” said Giant Centipede, “What are you doing?”

“I’m trying to find something to eat,” said Bird-Eating Tarantula, “but this forest doesn’t seem to have any food in it.”

Giant Centipede put down his book and scuttled out from under the rock. “What about the guinea fowl chicks that I saw just behind those fallen trees?”

Bird-Eating Tarantula sighed. “Their mother is too big and strong. She pecks at me.”

Giant Centipede 1They walked along for a while until they came to the edge of a reedy marsh. “Look, Bird-Eating Tarantula,” said Giant Centipede, “There are some eggs lying in a nest of mud!”

Bird-Eating Tarantula nearly tripped over his eight long, hairy legs as he ran to look, but then he came back, crestfallen. “Those are the Caiman’s eggs,” he moaned. “Their leathery shells are far too tough for my fangs. And their mother is even bigger and fiercer than the guinea fowl!”

Just then a small green frog hopped out of the reeds, and Giant Centipede killed it with venom. “Would you like to share this frog with me?” he asked Bird-Eating Tarantula politely.

“What, a frog?” said Bird-Eating Tarantula with surprise. “Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly eat that — amphibians don’t agree with me at all!”

“Well then,” said Giant Centipede, after rapidly digesting the frog, “we will find something you will like.”

They walked through the forest, but everywhere they turned, the creatures were either too large, like the capybara, or else too chitinous, like the giant locusts, for Bird-Eating Tarantula. “What about these enormous, blind earthworms?” said Giant Centipede. “They are too soft to put up a fight and they are very tasty, like a nice pudding!”

Tarantula 1But Bird-Eating Tarantula only turned away with a shudder. “That’s…sorry, Giant Centipede, but worms are disgusting.  I mean, basically they’re just one big long intestine.”    So Giant Centipede ate all the worms himself.

Soon they arrived back at the rock, and now Bird-Eating Tarantula saw his friend’s unfinished book. “I’m sorry, Giant Centipede,” said Bird-Eating Tarantula. “You have been trying to help me but nothing in this forest seems to do. I am a bad Tarantula and a bad friend.” He wiped away tears with the spiny, weaponized hairs on his forelegs, which made him feel worse.

Giant Centipede thought for a moment. “Bird-Eating Tarantula, maybe there’s a way that you can help me.”

Bird-Eating Tarantula moaned, “How? You’ve already found many good things to eat!”

“Yes,” said Giant Centipede, “but I am so full of frogs and earthworms and locusts and that baby capybara I ate that I feel sluggish. I need some exercise.”

“What kind of exercise?” asked Bird-Eating Tarantula.

Giant Centipede 2“I was thinking,” said Giant Centipede, “That if I threaten the guinea fowl’s chicks, she will chase me and I will have to run oh so fast to get back under my rock. But she might catch me. Unless…”

“…Unless she has to run back because I am eating all of her babies?”

“Yes, Bird-Eating Tarantula. Because you will be eating all of her babies. And then you will come back to my rock and I will read to you from my book.”

And that is just what they did.

[Ed. Note: Please imagine here that I have drawn a lovely picture, in the manner of Arnold Lobel, of Giant Centipede and Bird-Eating Tarantula reading together.]


  1. I Have Been Away from Here Leave a reply
  2. Strangers and Brothers Leave a reply
  3. News from the Econo-Genetic Divide Leave a reply
  4. Miyazaki Nostalgia Leave a reply
  5. From the Wayback Machine: Fragments of the Friday Quiz Leave a reply
  6. American Goddess Leave a reply
  7. “Entrepreneurs Can’t Wait” Leave a reply
  8. Science: Iliad Still Really Old Leave a reply