Elinor Lipman

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Ms. Demeanor, a novel

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

  • 2013 (Hardcover), 2014 (Paperback)
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mariner Books
  • Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, iBook, Audio

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.

Reviews and praise

"Her essays celebrate an uncommon virtue: common decency. Lipman is eloquent and loving about her childhood, growing up with good Irish neighbors who accepted the only Jewish family in their midst. In several essays, Lipman meditates on the large and small kindnesses that have shaped her outlook. 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." Dominique Browning, for The New York Times Book Review

"Her good nature twinkles on virtually every page of I Can't Complain, a collection garnered from pieces written for magazines, Web sites and newspapers (including The Washington Post). As readers of her fiction know, Lipman is unfailingly funny, and comic flashes illuminate even her saddest essays." Wendy Smith, for The Washington Post

"A feast of bite-sized morsels of humor and wisdom." Kirkus Reviews

"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