In Praise of Messy Lives is a collection of essays that ranges from Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign, to the trials and tribulations of parenting, to twitter wars, to the modern day woman's fascination with S&M as demonstrated by the success of 50 Shades of Grey. Noncohesiveness aside, Roiphe is undeniably a talented writer but while she makes strong arguments in many of her essays, her grating over-analyzation and holier than thou snootiness taint many of them. Take, for example, The Perfect Parent, where Roiphe describes what she considers over-involved parents and recalls with nostalgia the good old days when her mom would call up the stairs, "Did you do your homework yet?" instead of doing the Wuthering Heights assignment together. Instantly I remembered how hard I struggled with Moby Dick (still can't stand that book to this day, sorry, Herman), and how my mom would read one page and I'd read the next. We'd discuss it, battle through it together, and finish the damn assignment. Was my mom over-involved because she sat on the couch and read it with me? No.
The essay goes on to inform us that "most of us do not raise our children amidst a sea of lovely and instructive wooden toys...and healthy organic snacks." Well that's too bad for your child, who is probably playing with plastic toys that are made with hazardous materials including lead, PVC, and mercury, and too bad for the environment being that plastics are not recyclable nor biodegradable. And too bad about those non-organic snacks which are loaded with GMO ingredients including sugar and corn- you know, the ones linked to inflammatory disease, the cause of a number of food allergies, and, later down the line, fertility problems.
"Can we, for a moment, flash back to the benign neglect of the late 1970s and '80s? To children helping themselves to three slices of cake, or ingesting secondhand smoke, or carrying cocktails to adults who were ever so slightly slurring their words."
*Crickets* Yeah, those were the days.
Anyway, if you're willing to skip around a bit, and tolerate Roiphe's self-congratulatory insight, then check out the book. Otherwise, keep looking for something else.