A few words about book's author
Anne Lamott is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Help, Thanks, Wow; Some Assembly Required; Grace (Eventually); Plan B; Traveling Mercies; and Operating Instructions, as well as several novels, including Imperfect Birds, Rosie and Crooked Little Heart. A past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an inductee to the California Hall of Fame, she lives in northern California.
Anne Lamotts recovery from alcoholism and drug abuse helped her career in two ways. First, it marked an artistic rebound for the novelist; second, shes become an inspirational figure to fans who have read her frank, funny nonfiction books covering topics from motherhood to religion to, yes, fighting for sobriety. Early on, Lamotts hard-luck novels were impressive chronicles of family strife punctuated by bad (but often entertaining) behavior. Everyone in Lamotts books is sort of screwed up, but she stocks them with a humor and core decency that make them hard to resist. In Hard Laughter, she tells the (semi-autobiographical) story of a dysfunctional family rocked by the fathers brain tumor diagnosis. In Rosie and its 1997 sequel, Crooked Little Heart, the heroines are a sassy teenage girl and her alcoholic, widowed mom. Another precocious child provides the point of view in All New People, in which a girl rides out the waves of the 1960s with her nutty parents. Lamotts conversational, direct style and cynical humor have always been strengths, and with All New People — the first book she wrote after getting sober — she turned a corner. Reedeming herself from the disastrous reviews of her messy (too much so, even for the endearingly messy Lamott) 1985 third novel Joe Jones, Lamotts talent came back into focus. Anne Lamott is a cause for celebrations, the New Yorker effused. Her real genius lies in capturing the ineffable, describing not perfect moments, but imperfect ones...perfectly. She is nothing short of miraculous. That said, Lamotts sensibility is not for everyone. The faith, both human and spiritual, in her books is accompanied by her unsparing irony and a distinct disregard for wholesomeness or conventionality; and God here is for sinners as much as (if not more than) for saints. Her girls are often not girls but half-adults; her adults, vice-versa. She finds the adolescent, weak spots in all her characters, making them people to root for at the same time. Among Lamotts most messy, troubled characters is the author herself, and she began turning this to her advantage with the 1993 memoir Operating Instructions, a single moms meditation on the big experiment — failures included — of new parenthood. It was also in this book that Lamott came out of the closet with her Christianity, and earned a whole new following that grew with her subsequent memoirs, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life and Traveling Mercies. However gifted Lamott was at conveying fictional stories, it was in telling her own stories that her self-deprecating humor and hard-earned wisdom really made themselves known, and loved by readers.
Good To Know
Lamotts Joe Jones, which is now out of print, was so poorly received that it sent the alcoholic Lamott into a tailspin. When Joe Jones came out I really got trashed, she told the New York Times in 1997. I got 27 bad reviews. It was kind of exhilarating in its way. I was still drinking and I woke up every morning feeling so sick, I literally felt I was pinned to the bed by centrifugal force. I wouldnt have very many memories of what had happened the night before. Id have to call around, and I could tell by peoples reaction whether Id pulled it off or not. I was really humiliating myself. It was bad. Lamotts father was a writer who instilled the belief in her that it was a privilege in life to be an artist, as opposed to having a regular job. But she stresses to students that it doesnt happen overnight; that the work has to be measured in small steps, with continual efforts to improve. She said in an NPR interivew, Ive published six books and I still worry that the phone is going to ring and someone is going to say, Okay, the jig is up, you have to get a job... In an essay accompanying Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Lamott described her decision to begin writing in earnest about Christianity: Thirteen years ago, I first lurched — very hung over — into a little church in one of the poorest communities in California. Without this church, I do not think I would have survived the last few years of my drinking. But even so, I had written about the people there only in passing. I did, however, speak about the church whenever I could, sheepishly shoehorning in a story or two. But it wasnt really until my fifth book Operating Instructions, that I came out of the closet as a real believer.... I started to realize that there was a great hunger and thirst for regular, cynical, ragbag people to talk about God...