cover image My Life as a Villainess: Essays

My Life as a Villainess: Essays

Laura Lippman. HarperCollins, $28.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-299733-3

Self-awareness, a knack for observation, and a dose of snark fuel the uneven but occasionally potent debut collection from Edgar Award–winning crime novelist Lippman (The Lady in the Lake). As Lippman explains, “There is a sense of liberation in admitting to one’s faults” and in fact she “had to stretch to earn the title” of villainess. The essays sometimes feel as though they could have gone deeper into their subject, but nuggets of insight show up consistently enough to compensate, as when she comments, “Our culture long ago made peace with the fragility of matrimony, but we still have high expectations for friendships.” Lippman is at her best when confronting society’s expectations of women, especially while discussing becoming a late-in-life mom. About menopause, she drily comments that it “doesn’t make women want to die. It makes other people wish we would die, or at least disappear.” Rightfully asking to be judged on her own terms, not on those of the women she cites as inevitable comparisons for a female essayist—Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Susan Sontag—Lippman contributes an appealingly candid voice to the literary conversation. [em]Agent: Vicky Bijur, Vicky Bijur Literary. (Aug.) [/em]