Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith Paperback – Feb 15 2000
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Anne Lamott admits that she's "ever so slightly more anxious than the average hypochondriac." When faced with a small, irregular mole and a family history of skin cancer, however, she remembers her faith in God and enjoys some peace--despite behaving "a little more like Nathan Lane in The Birdcage than I would have hoped." Author Lamott reads these wonderfully detailed postcards from her meandering journey to faith. With sharp and bittersweet humor, she recounts a past full of bad relationships with men, with food, with drugs, with alcohol, and worst of all, with herself. She battles her demons thanks to the love of her friends and family and her "lurch of faith" to embrace religion, that "puzzling thing inside me that had begun to tug on my sleeve from time to time, trying to get my attention." Inspiring but not dogmatic, Traveling Mercies is a treasure. (Running time: 4 hours, 3 cassettes) --C.B. Delaney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Lamott (Bird by Bird) reads a collection of her autobiographical essays, each a heart-wrenching detailing of a life grown up in a world of obsessions: food, alcohol, drugs and relationships. She tells of her childhood and early adulthood in Tiburon, Calif., where she started drinking and drugging young in a permissive 1960s-era disheveled household. The title essay, "Traveling Mercies," dwells on things "broken," such as her body, when she became a bulimic. Lamott's writing is honest and direct, and in her reading she presents her words with emotional insistence. She recalls episodes from her life with vivid ferocity, noticing how "everything felt so intense and coiled and M?bius strip-like." As she has a son, sobers up, her search for awareness turns spiritual. The sum effect comes across like a hipper version of Melody Beattie's self-help classic, Codependent No More. Simultaneous release with the Pantheon hardcover. (Feb.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I can't say it any better than many of the other reviews I've read of this book, so I'm just going to second all the five star reviews in this collection.
Anne Lamott did me the supreme honor of offering to write a cover blurb for my own book, so I owe her big time. But even if she'd not done me, a first time author, this supreme honor, I would kiss her toes and paint them with sparkle glitter green polish for having written this nitty-gritty, HONEST, shining and quirky book about her own journey to faith.
I have to share my favorite line (paraphrasing, cuz I can't find it right this minute...): I'm not going to tell you what I really thought of that woman in her Lycra bicycle shorts, because if I did, it'd make Jesus drink gin straight out of the cat's dish.
You've gotta love her. I just wish she lived next door.
Lamott isn't afraid to present herself in a less than flattering light whether it's secretly hating her mom or yelling out of frustration at her young son. We all do these things, but most of us prefer to show the world the "good" side of ourselves. Lamott is wonderful when it comes to making the everyday petty irritations of life funny, so that you empathize with her rather than judging.
Lamott writes about children, her friends, relatives and church. She writes about the competitiveness that can develop among parents of young children, and she writes about the path she took to becoming sober. Unlike some reviewers, I don't think it's going to be detrimental to her later relationship with her son when she makes him go to church. There could be a lot worse things she could force him to do.
In one essay, she writes about feeling unattractive after standing with a group of teenage girls waiting for a bus back to her hotel. Then she realizes that no one in the group is probably satisfied with her body, and this is something I've started to tell myself when I find myself in that kind of situation, too.
This atheist gives this book two thumbs up.
People who have trouble with this book are wanting to make Anne Lamott a role model instead of a story teller. We can certainly learn from the authenticity and self-awareness shown in the way she tells her stories in this book. She does not shy away from the less flashy aspects of faith--doubt, sin, suffering, etc. and that is what makes this book realistic and honest. She is not writing a story about how we should live our lives, and it is wrong to take that book in this way. But in the end it is a real and engaging story of love and relationships; between her and God, her son, friends, the church, family, and life. It is greatly entertaining, and a refreshing look into someone's life who is as open with her blemishes as with her crowns.
Actually this book is quite readable and good fun. Some of it is charming. There's a surprising amount of humourous self-reflection that reminded me more of Bridget Jones's Diary than anything else, but such is the nature of trendy Christian thought, apparently.
Particularly illuminating is the old joke about the guy who crash lands in the snow, complains about how God didn't rescue him, and, when reminded that he is in fact alive to tell the tale, says that it was because some Eskimo came along and saved him. We laugh because we are so used to Christian apologists using the 'mysterious ways' ploy, so we all know it was really God that sent the Eskimo, right? Lamott parrots this one without a comment. It would have been interesting to see her think about it a little; I'm disappointed that she accepts something so fatuous at face value.
This is good to read on a plane or a beach. You'll enjoy it, toss it aside, and never think about it again.
I am not a religious person, and in fact much the opposite, but I loved this book. I loved the way Anne fully admits that she does not "conform" to the traditional ideology of Christianity, and yet Jesus loves her anyway. I love the writing about her son Sam, her lost friend Pammy . . . all the people who have touched her life in one way or another. All of these people make her look deeper inside herself, and also to God, for answers and solutions to problems that we all face every single day. Of course, her sense of humor also plays a part in this book, as I don't think it's possible to read Anne Lamott without reading her sense of humor. It would just be wrong!
Traveling Mercies touches on the issues that we all have with feeling "not good enough" or like a failure; and how to overcome those things through the stark realizations that flash before our eyes now and then and also through humor.
Truly, if I had one wish on this earth before my life runs out, I would wish to meet her and be a part of her life . . . and after reading Traveling Mercies I can see that she is even more of a loving and compassionate person than I had already assumed. Beautiful writing of a beautiful, though messy at times, life.
I admire Anne for being a Christian but for also accepting others in their own faith, no matter what that faith may be. I think that, truly, this should be a required read for anyone who is a Christian . . . a lesson in acceptance because none of us are perfect and none of us will ever believe exactly the same things because we are all so shaped by our life experiences. Anne Lamott is truly beautifully amazing, and I recommend this book, and all of her others, to everyone.
Most recent customer reviews
A good writer....I am 84 , probably old fashioned so don't care for the language used in some parts of the book.Published 9 months ago by Lorraine
This was a very depressing book to me. It sounded like it was the story of the author and her struggles.Published 18 months ago by Pete
I ordered this book, confirmed payment and it never showed up. I don't believe i was charged the 6 bucks it cost but was not notified of why the order did not go through by the... Read morePublished on Sept. 12 2010 by 10186
I had high hopes for this book as it was highly recommended by a friend -- I was deeply disappointed. It's hard to tell what was more annoying... Read morePublished on March 12 2010 by Book Spy
This is the book that got me hooked on Anne Lamott. Most poignant and precious are the insights about life as a recovering alcoholic. Read morePublished on July 16 2004 by Wordmeisters
This book should be an eye-opener for anyone who is prone to believing in "cookie cutter christians"...
Read with an open heart. God will bless...