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It would be easy to mistake this book for more of the same. Like Lamott's earlier spiritual nonfiction, Traveling Mercies and Plan B, it's a collection of essays, mostly previously published. The three books have strikingly similar covers and nearly identical subtitles. The familiar topics are here—Mom; her son, illness; death; addictions; Jesus; Republicans—as is the zany attitude. Not that repetitiveness matters; Lamott's faithful fans would line up to buy her shopping lists. But these recent essays show a new mellowness: "I don't hate anyone right now, not even George W. Bush. This may seem an impossibility, but it is true, and indicates the presence of grace or dementia, or both." With gentle wisdom refining her signature humor, Lamott explores helpfulness, decency, love and especially forgiveness. She explains the change: "Sometimes I act just as juvenile as I ever did, but as I get older, I do it for shorter periods of time. I find my way back to the path sooner, where there is always one last resort: get a glass of water and call a friend." Here's hoping that grace eventually persuades this older, wiser Lamott that her next nonfiction book should be wholly original. (Mar. 20)
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Lamott's third collection of funny, smart, and prayerful essays-to-live-by contains just what readers expect from this nimble and candid writer: the unexpected. Sure, Lamott writes, as she always does, about her son, Sam, now 17. And yes, she continues to shift through the psychic rubble of her bad drinking and drug days, searching for shards of wisdom and bright bits of sustaining humor. But the particulars are always startling and provocative because, like all artists, Lamott can riff inventively on the most commonplace themes. She presents finely crafted homilies about binging and aging, and recounts episodes of despair, craziness, fear, guilt, and grief, followed by out-of-the-blue rescues. An advocate for kindness, reflection, and the ongoing effort to do the right thing, Lamott can be downright rancorous and self-absorbed, just like everyone else. And for all her attachment to her church community, she thinks for herself, and believes deeply in freedom. Consequently, she speaks out for women's reproductive rights, and helps a terminally ill friend die. Irreverently reverent, Lamott is resplendent in "Steinbeck Country," a beacon-in-the-dark essay about the importance of public libraries in which she praises librarians as "healers and magicians." Lamott also performs these essential roles, and readers do feel better for it. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.