For those who want to get a preview of what Elinor Lipman will be like at the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library Literary lunch (I think reservations are closed, but you never know) or just like some darn good column writing, I thought I'd say a few words about the author's first collection of essays, due for release on April 16. It's not like this is Lipman's first book of nonfiction, because there was Beacon's Tweet Land of Liberty: Irreverent Rhymes from the Political Circus , which came out last year.
Lipman wrote a poetic tweet every day for the political campaigns. They are hilarious. Here's Ron Charles writing about them in the Washington Post.
And speaking of newspapers, a number of these essays first appeared in the "Couples" column of the Boston Globe. And Lipman's eye for the tight writing of the newspaper journalist might be one of the reasons why Jim Higgins praised Lipman's lovely writing in a recent review in the Journal Sentinel.
But I have found the book, which of course I devoured cover to cover, to be not just an enjoyable read, an insight into an author I like a lot, or the secret to a happy family life, but a primer on how to introduce Lipman at the lunch on April 23.
Note #1: Find that interview where she is called a cross between Kurt Vonnegut and Barbara Pym.
Note #2: Make sure all the books are there. She's not going to believe me when I say the books are out of stock.
Note #3: Don't worry about praising the movie version of "Then She Found Me," even though it's not the same as the book.
Note #4: Express that after all these years, I had no idea the author played golf, even though one of her heroines was a champion golfer. Heck, I figured that was just the creative mind at work.
Note #5: Talk up the new collection of essays, I Can't Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays. Every attendee will get a copy of the novel The View From Penthouse P (due to the way this event is structured, there is no gift card option on this event. Goodness, you must know somebody who'd love this book for Mother's Day.)
I asked Lipman about why the essays, why now, why not in between novels? She very graciously replied.
"I couldn't seem to get back to the novel I was writing after my husband died in 2009. I wrote an essay about him for the Modern Love column in the New York Times, and then did something like an inventory of past essays. I asked my agent if we might consider a collection, and we did submit them to my publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
"They very nicely said yes, but could they have a novel, too? My agent said, "Start one. Write me a chapter." I did. Then I kept going till I had five chapters.
"Houghton said yes again. I did think, "Oh, they're being nice to do the essays. It must be something like an 'atta, girl'" and it'll be a cute little paperback to sell alongside the new novel. But the sales force said, "No, we want it to be hardcover. We want libraries to buy it."
"So two books at once. A first for me, certainly. But I do remember when Jill McCorkle's first two books came out simultaneously, The Cheerleader and 7th of July. (Love her). I Can't Complain is such an adorable little $20 package, who could object to the twinning?"
I guess I should do a little plugging for Jill McCorkle as well. Her new book Life After Life is tied for the #1 Indie Next Pick for April.
See you ticket holders on Tuesday, April 23, 11 am at the Pfister!