I Can't Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays

I Can't Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays

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by Elinor Lipman
     
 

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From the beloved and acclaimed novelist, a collection of witty, moving essays.In her two decades of writing, Elinor Lipman has populated her fictional universe with characters so utterly real that we feel like they’re old friends. Now she shares an even more intimate world with us—her own—in essays that offer a candid, charming take on

Overview

From the beloved and acclaimed novelist, a collection of witty, moving essays.In her two decades of writing, Elinor Lipman has populated her fictional universe with characters so utterly real that we feel like they’re old friends. Now she shares an even more intimate world with us—her own—in essays that offer a candid, charming take on modern life. Looking back and forging ahead, she considers the subjects that matter most: childhood and condiments, long marriage and solo living, career and politics.

Here you’ll find the lighthearted: a celebration of four decades of All My Children, a reflection on being Jewish in heavily Irish-Catholic Lowell on St. Patrick’s Day, a hilariously unflinching account of her tiptoe into online dating. But she also tackles the serious and profound in eloquent stories of unexpected widowhood and caring for elderly parents that use her struggles to illuminate ours. Whether for Lipman’s longtime readers or those who love the essays of Nora Ephron or Anna Quindlen, I Can't Complain is a diverting delight.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Dominique Browning
…essays on everything from motherhood to soap operas, from sex education to writing tips. Lipman's beloved son, Ben, and her equally well-loved husband, Bob…are prominent, and it's a treat to get to know them, even to hear their voices, and to feel her love…There's nothing too personal about a good essay, which achieves only an illusion of intimacy, a reaching toward universal connection, while much is left unsaid. Yes, Lipman is nice, sensitive, positive—and old-fashioned. She wears her heart on her sleeve. And, in the end, that has as much going for it in the way of profundity as anything a bitter, snarky postmodernist has to offer.
The Washington Post - Wendy Smith
…a collection of short essays that are reliably smart and witty, but never nasty…[Lipman's] good nature twinkles on virtually every page of I Can't Complain…As readers of her fiction know, Lipman is unfailingly funny, and comic flashes illuminate even her saddest essays.
Publishers Weekly
In charming and often self-deprecating fashion, novelist Lipman (The View from Penthouse B) has penned an engaging and moving series of essays about her life—some previously published in the Boston Globe (“Boy Meets Girl,” “I Want to Know”), others in Good Housekeeping (“Good Grudgekeeping”) and the New York Times (“Confessions of a Blurb Slut”). The most touching is Lipman’s tribute to her late husband, Bob Austin, in “This Is for You,” and the loving treatment of her son, Benjamin, in the same essay, lauding him for his help during his father’s last days. (Earlier in the collection, the laugh-filled “Sex Ed” provides a hysterical look at the author and her doctor husband trying to explain the reproductive process to their fifth-grader son.) “No Outline? Is That Any Way to Write a Novel?” offers a fascinating glimpse into Lipman’s creative process. Whether or not one is a Lipman fan before reading this collection, he or she most certainly will be by the time the final page is turned. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"Lipman's acuity as a social observer makes her voice seem to belong to a wise and funny friend." —The Boston Globe
 

"More addictive than that bag of peanut M&M's… [Lipman] is always in top form as an essayist…Her essays celebrate an uncommon virtue: common decency. Lipman is eloquent and loving." —The New York Times Book Review
 

"Endearingly personal…The essays are full of wit and charm, along with some trenchant observations." —The Seattle Times
 
"[Lipman's] good nature twinkles on virtually every page of I Can't Complain…Lipman is unfailingly funny, and comic flashes illuminate even her saddest essays...Lipman portrays our most painful emotions coexisting with the humor that makes them bearable." —The Washington Post "Engaging…Good-natured confessions run throughout the pieces in I Can't Complain." —The Miami Herald

 "Funny, witty, gracious and knowing personal essays that make a reader want to have lunch with the author." —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"The essays in I Can't Complain bring warmth and insight to topics ranging from soap operas to the death of [Lipman's] beloved husband." —Parade

"In each piece, no matter how brief, Lipman tackles the subject at hand with Dorothy Parker-esque wit and verve. The author's good-spirited openness and self-awareness shine through…A feast of bite-sized morsels of humor and wisdom." —Kirkus Reviews "As if readers are sitting down to sip a glass of wine with their best friend (if that best friend happened to be incredibly witty, intelligent, self-aware and encouraging-and also a bestselling author), this collection feels like the very best gabfest imaginable…Very highly recommended." —Book Reporter "Charming…Whether or not one is a Lipman fan before reading this collection, he or she most certainly will be by the time the final page is turned." —Publishers Weekly

Library Journal
This collection of essays, culled from previous publications, presents a lifetime of experiences. Starting with memories of her mother and father, Lipman, author of many popular novels (e.g., The Inn at Lake Devine), takes readers through her life using candid snapshots. She includes views of her husband ("I Married a Gourmet," "Monsieur Clean") and the upbringing of her son ("Sex Ed," "The Rosy Glow of the Backward Glance"). One of the most touching pieces deals with the death of her husband from brain disease. Along with providing family details, she discusses the marginalia of everyday life, such as invitation etiquette and Sex in the City, as well as her career. She is strongest when she shares about her son and when discussing the vagaries of being an author. Lipman is known for humor and satire; there are pieces that will make readers laugh and some that will elicit a tear or two. The book is best read in small doses. There are nuggets here that readers will surely want to share. VERDICT This is a crash course for aspiring authors (in the section "On Writing," among others) and a charming read for those who enjoy the essays and literary nonfiction of Nora Ephron or Anna Quindlen.—Linda White, Maplewood, MN
Kirkus Reviews
Accomplished novelist Lipman (Tweet Land of Liberty: Irreverent Rhymes from the Political Circus, 2012, etc.) exposes her journalistic roots by collecting over 30 "(all too) personal" essays and columns that have appeared in a number of periodicals. Dating back about 20 years, these mostly light pieces examine her family's foibles, the craft and business of writing, romance, and, somewhat surprisingly, given the rest of the volume's rather acerbic tone, moving reflections on her husband's tragic illness and the author's life after his death. In each piece, no matter how brief, Lipman tackles the subject at hand with Dorothy Parker–esque wit and verve. The author's good-spirited openness and self-awareness shine through in pieces on her childhood (she happily dishes about her mother's condiment-phobia), her willingness to hold grudges and the stages of her son's development. She also describes the peaks and valleys of decades living with a kind man whose tastes and "midlife fastidiousness," especially when it came to dress and household clutter, sometimes got the better of her. Particularly keen are Lipman's observations on writing, covering topics ranging from the naming of characters--"Nomenclature done right contributes to characterization"--to the authorial use of food as a "narrative helpmate" and a frank rumination on the politics of blurbing. Confessing her proclivity to promote the work of others, Lipman explains, "I am giving back. Critics have been described as people who go into the street after battle and shoot the wounded. No blurb can be a bulletproof vest, but in my own experience it can put a square inch of Kevlar over a worried writer's heart." A feast of bite-sized morsels of humor and wisdom.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547576220
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/16/2013
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
115,101
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

ELINOR LIPMAN is the author of ten novels, including The View from Penthouse B and The Inn at Lake Devine; one essay collection, I Can’t Complain; and Tweet Land of Liberty: Irreverent Rhymes from the Political Circus. She lives in Massachusetts and New York City.


Brief Biography

Hometown:
Northampton, Massachusetts, and New York, New York
Date of Birth:
October 16, 1950
Place of Birth:
Lowell, Massachusetts
Education:
A.B., Simmons College, 1972; Honorary Doctor of Letters, Simmons College, 2000

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I Can't Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm an Elinor Lipman fan, but even if you'd never read any of her novels, you'd enjoy this book. It is funny....poignant....I read it as a library book and instantly bought it for my personal library.