Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith Hardcover – Large Print, Jul 5 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.
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"Traveling Mercies" (one of my all-time favorite books) was a sprawling, messy, beautiful tale of life and faith and day-to-day struggle. "Plan B" was more of the same, but with political teeth sharpened on the grindstone of Mr. Bush's policies. "Grace (Eventually)" shows a softer side of Anne, a maturing maybe, or an acceptance of the things she cannot change. She talks about her son, her dog, her mother, her church, her city, all with a tone of reconciliation.
Don't get me wrong. Anne still wants change. She still says things that will push a lot of buttons--regarding assisted suicide and abortion, for example. She also continues to express a belief in Jesus and His teachings and His example of love and mercy. For those annoyed by the cultural environment, she gives a call to more understanding. For those who disagree with her, she also calls for grace by asking us to accept her as she is in all her authentic imperfection.
I didn't walk away from this book with sublime shock and laughter (as I did with "Traveling Mercies") or with pent-up frustration (as I did with "Plan B"), I walked away with a sense of gentleness and a desire to extend that same grace to others. I guess you could call that a success.
This book will be a good read because it will make you think--and think better. In this work Lamott shares her life and friends and family and herself. She has child-like feelings and inspired thoughts. I love writing that surprises me with simplicity and originality. That's why I love her work.
If you like this book another one of Lamott's earlier works, Bird by Bird, is an all time favorite of mine. She deals with how to become a writer. And she makes it seem possible--and like she's in your corner.
Lamott's new book, "Grace Eventually: Further Thoughts On Faith," is a collection of essays, many of which Lamott wrote as a columnist for Salon.com. If you haven't read anything by Lamott before, the best places to start would be "Traveling Mercies" (her bestselling memoir), and "Bird by Bird," (one of the best guide to writing anywhere, another bestseller). But the two things you should know before reading Anne Lamott is that 1) she is an incredible prose artist, quirky and profound, with a style that seems all her own. And 2) she is almost completely neurotic.
"Grace Eventually," is a special book in that Lamott's description of ordinary events make them feel sacred. She is a writer with an ability to make the reader pay attention, feel present, and tune in to the story taking place around them. Although she refers to Jesus consistently, there is little that seems orthodox about Lamott's spiritual journey, and perhaps that is one of the reasons she has such a wide readership.
You'd have to be made out of granite not to find something that moves you in this unique collection of essays. You would also need to adhere to Lamott's precise and strident political positions not to find at least one portion of this book infuriating. Either way, "Grace Eventually" is a provocative and unique read, and any avid reader owes it to themselves to become familiar with one of the country's top writers.
The book was somewhat spoiled for me by rants about right-wingers and George W. Bush and abortion and various other things. Being shrill is not the badge of authentic humanity. Lamott needs to extend some grace to those with whom she disagrees without demonizing them. In fact, if such an approach could be extended to our entire culture we would be better by far.