Sunday, April 28, 2013

Elinor Lipman's "I Can't Complain"

Elinor Lipman is the author of ten novels, including The View from Penthouse B and The Inn at Lake Devine; one essay collection,  I Can't Complain; and Tweet Land of Liberty: Irreverent Rhymes from the Political Circus. She lives in Massachusetts and New York City.

Lipman applied the “Page 99 Test” to I Can't Complain and reported the following:
Page 99 of I Can't Complain is not only the opening page of an essay, but the gateway to the section titled "Coupling Columns." They were all written for the Boston Globe Magazine, a gig in which I was one of five rotating writers representing different relationship categories (gay, straight, married, single, and long-married, which was me). This one, "Boy Meets Girl," was my audition, the 750 words that landed me the job. Campaigning against comradeship of the athletic sort, I wrote, "I'm not against hobbies, just the elevation of them to a relationship prerequisite. My bias springs from my own lack of intergender interests and my conviction that togetherness is overrated. My parents were happily married for 45 years. Did my mother ever toss a football around with my father? Did he knit or sew or tend the tomatoes? He'd been a tennis player before he broke his ankles in the war; she never held a racket unless it was used to dislodge a cobweb from a light fixture." The whole section, written in 2005-2006, now has a poignancy I couldn't anticipate. These nine essays were about my marriage and--by definition and as good material--starred my husband. I had no idea as I wrote them that he would not live to see them collected.
Visit Elinor Lipman's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Family Man.

--Marshal Zeringue