This was a lovely book. Part memoir part religious philosophy, the book is a collection of essays in which Lamott opens her life and her heart to theThis was a lovely book. Part memoir part religious philosophy, the book is a collection of essays in which Lamott opens her life and her heart to the reader. Reading this book opened me to new ways of thinking about faith. While my own religion (the LDS Church) embraces the philosophy that both faith and works are required for salvation, our teachings tend to lean heavily on the works side and this book leans much more heavily to the faith side.
Lamott seems to be the perfect sinner--a life full of mistakes and missteps through which she manages to find God in the little things and pick up beautifully applicable lessons from the little messages God sends us in every day ways, finding hope in the message that God loves us all just exactly the way we are.
She does seem to be one of those people who have experienced every possible negative experience life has to offer--death of loved ones, childhood familial drama, abortion, drugs, alcoholism....to where when I hit the chapter on eating disorders a part of me thought "really? you have an eating disorder TOO?" It felt just a little attention seeking. But for the most part I found her very lovable and open and vulnerable.
Her writing is beautiful. I look forward to picking up "Bird by Bird," her book on writing. I feel like I could learn a lot from her.
A few of my favorite passages: From "Forgiveness" wherein she spends most of the essay describing a woman she regards as her "enemy" and her struggles to find a way to forgive this enemy. One day she is picking up her son from a playdate at this woman's home and... "And as I loosened the laces on one shoe, without realizing what I was doing, I sneaked a look into the other boy's sneaker--to see what size shoe he wore. To see how my kid lined up in shoe size. And I finally got it. The veil dropped. I got that I am mad as a hatter. I saw that I was the one worried that my child wasn't doing well enough in school. That I, was the one who thought I was out of shape. And that I was trying to get her to carry all this for me because it hurt too much to carry it myself."
From "Gypsies": "I am trying to accept that I am actually m-m-m-m-m-m-middle aged. And even though I am a feminist and even though I am religious, I secretly believe, in some mean little rat part of my brain, that I am my skin, my hair, and worst of all, those triangles of fat that pooch at the top of my thighs. In other words that I am my packaging. Even though both feminism and Christianity have taught me that I am my spirit, my heart, all that I have survived over the years and all that I have given, still a funny thing happened....I looked in the mirror and sighed and thought to myself, I will cut my eyes out." [the rest of the essay is just beautiful]
**spoiler alert** I found this book highly entertaining. Especially for the first 250 pages. The story follows airline pilot Chip Linton who survives**spoiler alert** I found this book highly entertaining. Especially for the first 250 pages. The story follows airline pilot Chip Linton who survives the wreck of a flight he tries, and almost manages, to land heroically after the manner of Sully Sullenburg. Plagued with Post Traumatic Stress and Survivor Guilt (magnified by being the pilot of the flight in question) he and his wife relocate their family (twin 10 year old girls) to a quiet New Hampshire village where the story evolves into a classic haunting tale, complete with bones in the basement, a coven of herbalist witches, and creepy secret passageways. It does get a little dark, but it was deliciously spine tingling and very well written. As usual Bohjalian has meticulously researched the detail of every aspect of the story, from the physics of an airplane crash to which herbs one would use to subdue the intended victim of a human sacrifice. It dragged just a little for me near the end and then picked up to an almost frantic pace, climaxing in ways that I found unexpected. All in all an enjoyable read....more
I have decided to set aside "World War Z" for now. I just wasn't finding it very compelling. While the writing is smart and witty and clearly well infI have decided to set aside "World War Z" for now. I just wasn't finding it very compelling. While the writing is smart and witty and clearly well informed, I felt the book really suffers from a lack of a main character and a story arc. It is more a series of short stories than a novel. And even the stories are less about people than peoples--how various countries, armies, cultures and world leaders would react to a Zombie invasion. Without a more Human connection, I just found it difficult to care too much about. It is written like a very compelling history book. If it WAS a history book I would love it. But I am having a hard time getting excited about fake zombie history.
So I have started "The Night Strangers" by Chris Bohjalian. I am only 20 pages in and it is already deliciously spine tingling. And I am very attached to the main character. And the action is already page turning. I am pleased. :)...more
There were things I really loved about this novel, this story of two sisters and the irrevocable changes wrought in their lives after their parents arThere were things I really loved about this novel, this story of two sisters and the irrevocable changes wrought in their lives after their parents are killed in a plane crash when the girls are in their early teens. I enjoyed the way that White weaves reality so seamlessly into her story. The book follows Ruthie and Julia throughout their lives, and since the characters were born around the same time I was, I found it really amusing to note the details she pulls out to enhance different moments in time and place. Although sometimes it got just a wee bit heavy handed. The story was touching and sweet and kept me reading obsessively, but there was something about her paradigm that kind of rubbed me the wrong way. The book, while tackling some very spiritual topics like death and relationships is very deeply secular. That in itself I have no problem with, but she seems to be trying to present herself as "balanced" and her efforts fall a little flat for me. Todd Johnson, in a review on the back of the book, claims that "She whacks through stereotypes with a machete, ultimately rejecting them all, and finding instead deep compassion for the flaws that make us human." Except that she doesn't. Maybe if you are talking about stereotypes regarding homosexuals or Jews or kids in rehab. I did feel like her presentation of those characters was very realistic and well rounded. But there were several groups I felt were treated in very stereotyped ways--Christians, suburbanites, pro-lifers, housewives. Her attempts at whacking through those stereotypes is to give us a character whom we love despite his Catholicism and pro-life sentiments. Someone whom we forgive these "flaws" because he has other great attributes to make up for it. ...more
I didn't realize when I picked this up that is why by the same author as "Wait Til Helen Comes" which was my favorite scary book as a kid, but a few cI didn't realize when I picked this up that is why by the same author as "Wait Til Helen Comes" which was my favorite scary book as a kid, but a few chapters in and I definitely recognized the writing style! Just the right amount of scary for me (apparently I still have like a 12 year old threshold for scariness). I love how Mary Downing Hahn creates such vivid pictures of her characters so quickly. A fun little spooky book....more