Katie Roiphe catches flak from all sides: Defenders of the Amurrican Way distrust her because she’s, in the words of one detractor, “contributing to the total annihilation of the literary culture, but also to the destruction of our civilization”: the Powerful Sisterhood scorns her because she might actually side with those horrid males once in a while. (The phrase “Do-Me Feminism” comes immediately to mind.) And Roiphe’s life, it appears, is genuinely messy. So this collection of recent essays carries an extra dollop of authority, whether she’s analyzing the retro (or is it?) appeal of Mad Men, examining the writings (and cultural positionings) of Joan Didion or Susan Sontag, or characterizing Hillary Clinton as “Sister Frigidaire.” If you’ve ever suspected that the conventional wisdom is wise in inverse correlation to its conventionality, you’ll probably appreciate In Praise of Messy Lives.