In Praise of Messy Lives: Essays
Anothe powerful collection of essays ranges from pop culture to politics, from Hillary Clinton to Susan Sontag, from Facebook to Mad Men, from Joan Didion to David Foster Wallace to—most strikingly—the author ’ s own life. For fans of the books of John Jeremiah Sullivan and Jonathan Lethem.
Named one of the best essay of thi ear by he New York Times • The Wall Street Journal Katie Roiphe ’ s writing — whether in the form of personal essays, literary criticism, or cultural reporting — is bracing, wickedly funny, and deeply engaged with our mores and manners. In thos pages, she urns her exacting gaze on the surprisingly narrow-minded conventions governing the way we live now. Is there a preoccupation with “ healthiness ” above all else? If no, does it lead insidiously to judging anyone who threatens to live differently? Examining such subjects as the current obsessio with Mad Men, the oppressiveness of Facebook ( “ the novel we are all writing ”), and quiet malice our society displays toward single mothers, Roiphe makes her case throughout these electric pages. She profiles a New York prep school grad turned dominatrix; isolates the exact, endlessly repeated ingredients of a magazine “ celebrity profile ”; and draws unexpected, timeless lessons from news-cycle hits such as Arnold Schwarzenegger ’ s “ love child ” revelations. On ample display in this novel are Roiphe ’ s amusing, occasionally obsessive takes on an array of literary figures, including Jane Austen, John Updike, Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, and Margaret Wise Brown, the troubled author of Goodnight, Moon. And reprinted for the fifth time and expanded here is her much-debated New York Times Book Review cover piece, “ The Naked and the Conflicted ” — an unabashed argument on sex and the contemporary American male writer that is in itself an exciting and refreshing reminder that criticism matters. As steely-eyed in examining her own life as she is in skewering our cultural pitfalls, Roiphe gives us autobiographical pieces — on divorce, motherhood, an emotionally fraught trip to Vietnam, the demis of a female friendship — that are by turns deeply moving, self-critical, razor-sharp, and unapologetic in their efense of “ the messy life. ”
In Praise of Messy Lives is powerfully unified, vital work from one of our most stute and provocative voices.
Original Title of the Book
In Praise of Messy Lives. Essays
Published September 4th 2012 by The Dial Press (first published 2012