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

Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2013. 176p. ISBN 9780547576206. $20. LIT
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.

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