The Guilty Party

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thank God for Anne Lamott

I am a lapsed churchgoer. Brought up a Methodist, wandered away for several years of my callow and irresponsible young adult life, came back as a husband and father and finally split from the scene again when I couldn't take the politics, hypocrisy and general nonsense that cast a haze over the good stuff like the music and the food and many of the people. But that doesn't mean I don't have a deep and everlasting belief system going on. Maybe one day I'll find a congregation that works for me (and more importantly, for my beloved).

In the meantime it is good--heck, it's absolutely necessary if I am to hold on to any faint semblence of sanity--for me to have at least a sporadic diet of reading that helps me reconnect with Faith and Humanity and God. And few writers do that as well as Anne Lamott. For us writers she is known for her Gotta Have book Bird by Bird , but I am also so very glad she has given us Traveling Mercies and Plan B. And now, courtesy the bargain book table at my local grocery store, I have my own copy of Grace Eventually, Thoughts on Faith. Six bucks on anything other than necessities right now could be considered an extravagance in our household these days, but this was money well spent ten times over. I'm only four essays into this collection, but as expected Ms. Lamott is funny and honest and direct and just such a damned good writer it makes me mad I'm not that good and glad somebody is. She captures moments, shining a light on them from her own unique angle that somehow is the way I think most of us would like to view life if only we knew how to properly aim the lights and the camera.

She is by no means the only contemporary writer who helps refresh my mind and soul. And most of the others who do so come at Life and the Great Cosmic Scheme from a very much different place than Ms. Lamott. Two that come to mind are Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore. And of course there are many, many Dead Person Great Writers without whom I would be a much hollower shell of a man than I often feel is my fate: Twain, Dickens, Shakespeare, Shaw, Lewis, Tolkien, Wodehouse and so many others lift me up and give me strength to go on time and time again even as they open my eyes so I can see the stumbling blocks that litter the path.The point is that all my favorite writers share two qualities: An eye that recognizes what is real and a heart that shows us what is possible.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise


Timberati said...

I love Annie's essay where she goes to the supermarket and during the checkout, the checker says, "you're our xth customer, you've won a ten pound ham!" Of course, the ham is in the back of the store and takes a long time to locate and bring to the front of the store.

By the time it arrives she's referring to it as "that f**cking ham."

In the parking lot of the supermarket Annie meets a friend who is at wit's end. The car needs repair, she's down to her last dollar, and there's nothing to feed her kids. Annie asks if she would like a ham. "Oh we love ham!"

You never know when miracles will come your way.

Anna said...

I so know what you are talking about Plum - the gossip and hypocrisy and so on. It gets everywhere!

My personal way of beating that is to arrive one minute before the service starts and be first to leave. I don't go there to make friends, I go there to offer thanks and to listen to what God has to say; more often than not, this is through the hymns. Fortunately, our ministers have never preached politics.

Of course, for some it is a very good way to make friends, but I cannot be trusted to put my foot in it somewhere or other.

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I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.