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I Can't Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays Hardcover – April 16, 2013
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More About the Author
Follow her on Twitter: @elinorlipman.
Photo Copyright Photographer Name: Michael Lionstar, 2012.
Top Customer Reviews
As a narrator, you get a sense of who Lipman is; in these essays, you get more "facts" about her life--her late husband (who was always early), her mensch of a son, her family background, and her writing habits. They are harmonious with her fictional self--lovingly and wryly described. One of my favorite essays is her St. Patrick's Day Valentine to the Irish-Americans who shared (and dominated) her childhood neighborhood ("A Tip of the Hat to the Old Block")--Lipman makes the characters so vivid that I can see the blue-eyed Suzanne showing off her dotted Swiss dress, as well as the play of light in the room that Lipman doesn't describe. Thanks to the the written window Lipman provides, I am there, seeing and feeling.
I also adored the story of the bat-mitzvah girl with three sets of grandparents--like a number of the author's reflections, the essay reminds you of initial impressions and how they may or may not stay valid through time. Her writing about her late husband is exquisitely-wrought; it is never maudlin, and all the more poignant for that. There really was not one essay I didn't find of value, so I won't list every one of them here.
But even if you have never read Lipman's fiction, you should enjoy these essays if you are a writer (naming your characters and the use of food for characterization are just some of the tips you'll glean) or a thoughtful woman.Read more ›
If you're a fan of Ms. Lipman, this book is a special treat. I've always felt like she's this author you love to read and also wouldn't mind having over for dinner because she'd be gracious and funny and would make everyone feel as if there was a light shined on them. These essays bring out Lipman's personality, and even when she's writing about serious subjects and sadness, the tone is light, smart, and witty.
Elinor, after reading these personal stories, I feel she is my friend, writes stories That are so relatable. She is from my period of time, sometime between 1900 and 1950. I understand precisely when she talks about her neighborhood accepting her family, even though they were the only Jews in a conclave of Irish. That is how life was in New England, she from, Lowell, Mass. Everyone looked out for the other's kids, we were outdoors from dawn til dusk in the summer. We went everywhere, afraid of little. I found the first ten chapters the most relatable and funny. Her family, growing up with a father who thought of her as his favorite, or was it her sister? His love of Max Shulman, and Dobie Gillis. The friends, their families, her best friend's Bat Mitzvah, where her two dads, one mom, three sets of grandparents, two sets Jewish,and one Irish, all attended and had a fabulous time. Good Grudgekeeping, like most of us, Elinor remembers! Sex Ed, her son's introduction to the wonders of love, who told her after his dad went through the man/woman deal, that ' a man takes a seed out of his tush and a woman eats it'. The death of her mom and how she still thinks she should call her mom when anything intetesting happens.
The second eight chapters are about her writing. How she became a writer, what it means to her and what method she uses to name her characters. The third set of chapters are about love and coupling. She has some very funny stuff here. Anniversaries, separate beds and dating.Read more ›
In her "Meet the Family" columns I learned that chicken soup benefits from having a fistful of dried split peas thrown in... and that I'm not the only woman on earth who doesn't eat condiments. (Lipman's mother didn't either.)
The "On Writing" articles reveal how Lipman deals with blurb requests, picks names for her characters, uses food as a narrative helpmate and how her first novel "Then She Found Me," went to Hollywood and took 19 years to become a movie.
Her "Coupling Columns" take issue with the old bromide "Never go to bed angry," and the challenges of being married to an overzealous foodie and clean freak...and wonders if marriages not preceded by a proposal last longer than those that were. Or as Lipman puts it "Here's to the guys not on bended knee, not holding little velvet boxes. Here's to things more durable than diamonds."
The "Since Then" columns look at life after widowhood. She watches the Masters by herself for the first time. When asked about dating, she thinks "Maybe, if that day comes, I'd be okay with a high school romance" or, as she later puts it, "a fine nomance." Meanwhile, she reconfigures the novel she'd been working on from a third-person story about a young woman living with strangers into a story of two middle-aged sisters, with one of them, a widow, as narrator. Can't wait for the email from Amazon letting me know that that book,The View from Penthouse B has shipped.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The essays delightful examples of autobiographical storytelling ; Lipman came through the pages as if she and I were sitting in a cafe and telling stories!Published 4 days ago by Loripaws
I liked that these essays gave me a glimpse into Elinor Lipman. I have read many of her books, and I often wondered what she is like. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Jeanne Warfield
I suppose most people who enjoy leisurely reading are looking for a fantasy, an adventure, or a relationship. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Judith Rockey
I've read all of Elinor Lipman's novels and find this latest book of essays to be as wonderful and compelling. She is one of my favorite authors. I can't wait for more.Published 18 months ago by Elaine Soloway
Lippmann is as delightful in her essays as in her fiction.Published 19 months ago by S. L. Hofsommer
I listened to the audio version of this collection of essays (read by the author). Ms. Lipman's speaking voice is, not surprisingly, much like her writing: acerbic yet sweet. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Jo Maeder
This writer is terrific. She has so much wisdom and takes a very light hearted view of life, from the end of it. Read morePublished 21 months ago by mbrogers
Loved these essays. Elinor Lipman is one of my favorite writers and this was up to her usual quality. Would recommend.Published 21 months ago by Anne Varney