... a smart, thoughtful, sometimes vulnerable, always witty collection of essays. Some are new, some previously published, and together they offer an overview of a very special life so far ... Lippman is aware of and thankful for said specialness, and she acknowledges her good fortune often ... With its 'gleefully honest' hits of humor and willingness to take a close look at some discomfiting truths, it will come as no surprise to Lippman’s fans that My Life as a Villainess is an engaging read—an intrepid investigation of the author’s inner landscape and a raucous, no-holds-barred visit with that friend you admire for her candor, passion and unabashed nostalgia for 1980s fashion.
In first person, Lippman is funny and sharp at her best; she can sling a hell of a one-liner ... At times, however, she’s mundane in her insistence that actually, she’s very troublesome. The book’s title suggests someone who’s living her whole life as a villain; the reality is, Lippman is someone who got in trouble with her daughter’s principal for one lousy tweet. (It involved a revenge fantasy involving aforementioned schoolmates.) The rebellion that Lippman seems to want to convince the reader of is sort of tedious — her writing on menopause, though cheeky, isn’t really risky in the time of writers like Samantha Irby or Patricia Lockwood, women who bare themselves in their books. Some of her writing includes strange pronouncements, like her argument that she and her husband are 'solidly middle-class people no matter what our tax return says.' (Strange for many reasons, including the fact that her husband wrote and created The Wire along with a few other successful television shows, and thus is likely not actually middle-class) ... Regrettably, you leave My Life as a Villainess wanting more of something. More introspection on her role as an 'old' mom, more vulnerability when she talks about her body or her father, more detail, more heart, more heft. It’s not enough to just enjoy the lilt of her writing (though the chapter titled Men Explain ‘The Wire’ to Me made me laugh). Essay writing requires that you be not just a gifted writer — which Lippman is — but that you have a point, a purpose, an insight, or at least a memorable conclusion ... Essay writing is, indeed, the most accessible kind of writing around. But just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
These are personal essays, witty and poignant and thoughtful, about Lippman’s life ... both entertaining and universal ... Lippman is self-deprecatingly funny about motherhood, and age brings with it a confidence that serves her well ... Her confidence also shines.