grace (eventually): thoughts on faith, by anne lamott
no question, i’m an annie lamott fan. more specifically, i’m a fan of anne lamott’s non-fiction. i’ve tried her fiction, and continue to find it ok, but not brilliant. but her non-fiction: ooh.
traveling mercies, lamott’s first autobiographical book about faith, remains in my top 5 books of all time (not that i actually maintain such a list; but if i did, it would be). and operating instructions, lamott’s autobiographical reflections on her pregnancy and the first couple years of her son’s life, should be suggested reading for all humans, and required reading for all parents (especially expectant parents). lamott’s last non-fiction, plan b, was a bit of a let-down. i really wanted to love it. so i found myself loving parts.
but, other than a horribly repetitive titling and cover treatment (and, really, that’s more of a publisher’s gaffe than a reason to wag my finger at anne lamott), grace (eventually) brings us back nearly to traveling mercies (notice i say “nearly”). yes, some have complained that this book is another collection of mostly already-published essays. i say: i don’t care. they’re great; they hold together; and i hadn’t read them elsewhere anyhow.
why do i love lamott’s writing so much? well, i can’t deny the fact that she makes me laugh out loud. and they’re not those “slowly creep up on you laughs” that move from smile to tiny “huh” sound to low chuckle to pleasant and appropriate laugh. no: my occasional laughter while reading anne lamott is more the out-of-the-blue cackle, one that surprises me as much as it would anyone within painful earshot.
reason two for loving anne lamott’s non-fiction: she is unevenly insightful. what i mean is, there are moments when i’m reading, and i have to stop and breathe for a moment, and think about the profundity of what i’ve just read. and then there are lots of moments in-between those moments that aren’t so insightful. but here’s the thing — the uneven-ness of the insighfulness somehow works. it’s almost as if it creates a reading culture where the insights catch me off guard that much more. i’m always hopeful of stumbling onto them, but never quite expecting them when they appear.
reason three for loving anne lamott’s non-fiction: there are books — maybe 1 in 30 books i read, where the very act of reading is joy. the choice of words, the structure of sentences, the odd metaphor, they leave me smiling or astonished. christopher moore writes this way. anne lamott writes this way.