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Hard Laughter

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3.68  ·  Rating details ·  2,039 Ratings  ·  155 Reviews
Hard Laughter: A Novel
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 15th 1979 by North Point Press
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Jill
Nov 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This was a book I thought about giving up on many times. There are three reasons why I continued: 1) I want to like Anne Lamott's fiction because I so loved Bird by Bird, 2) the theme of the book -- dealing with a father's failing health -- was a personal connection, and 3) I hoped to find an answer to why the author would choose to give her 23-year old protagonist a best friend who was only 10 years old.

In the end, I liked moment of Anne Lamott's fiction. I would give her another try because I
...more
Bonnie
Aug 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed-books
Give me anything by Anne Lamott and I will read it.
Debra Hale-Shelton
Sep 28, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Lamott fans, but only those who have already read her far-better works
When I interviewed Anne Lamott in 1999, she said "Hard Laughter" was her worst book. I have not read all of her books, but I've read "Bird by Bird," which I found to be a wonderful guide to good writing; "Tender Mercies," and "Operating Instructions." Unlike these non-fiction books, "Hard Laughter" is billed as a novel, yet anyone familiar with Lamott's life knows much of the book is autobiographical. I have not read any of Lamott's other novels. But of the books I have read, "Hard Laughter" \ i ...more
Leila T.
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I was expecting this book to cover the whole bell curve of her father's illness, from diagnosis of brain tumor to passing, concentrating heavily on things like days visiting him in hospital, ethical quandaries, and a daughter's hagiography of her father.

Instead it was more like Some Several Months In The Life Of The Author, During Which Her Father Begins Treatment For A Possibly Malignant Tumor. It was much, much more about the protagonist (the author), her thoughts and life. And it is therefore
...more
Alison
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it
The main thing I would say about this book is that I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. That doesn't mean I would specifically say "Don't read this" - but literally, I can't think of anyone I'd say "Here, read this" to, and that's unusual for me. With pretty much any book, I can think of one or two specific people who I think would like it, get something out of it, what have you. But this one...it's so..meh. It's not awful, but it's so oddly written...it's partially stream-of-consciousness, but th ...more
Paul Shirley
Aug 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
I think many nonfiction books should be pamphlets.

This novel should have been a short story. A very, very short story.

Yes, it is, at times, funny and sweet but good god, make something happen. <- What I was thinking, during most of the book.

Like many, I'm sure, I picked up Hard Laughter because I love Lamott's take on Shitty First Drafts; I thought I ought to read some of her fiction so as to see what she was talking about in Bird by Bird.

So now I have, and won't make that mistake again!
Rebecca
May 28, 2011 rated it liked it
I was trying to read the Anne Lamott books in order, but I just got this 1979 one, after I had started my reading, so it's out of order. So I already know a lot of the facts of the (apparently, most autobiographical) story from reading the other books. Still, there's lots in the book besides the facts. I'm enjoying getting to know this Anne Lamott. It's like finally getting to meet a friend of friends--I've heard so much about her.
Elisabeth
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read for anyone whose family has survived tragedy and loss with love and dark humor. I love this family because it reminds me of my own. Anne's struggle to cope with her father's terminal illness hit very, very close to home. I love this book.
Laura
Jun 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
I love Lamott's voice. the dialogue in this book is some of her best writing. The characters are perfectly drawn. Worth reading!
Jane
Sep 08, 2014 rated it liked it
This is Anne Lamott’s first novel. It is also the first Anne Lamott novel I read.
Maybe if I didn’t know her themes so well, it wouldn’t have felt so painfully, awkwardly autobiographical, but because I have read some of her memoirs, I cringed at how transparently the sweet but screwy protagonist, Jennifer, represented the author.

Jennifer is 23 and her father has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor. She seems to have an unacknowledged drinking problem. She isn’t religious but the numinous
...more
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Anne Lamott is an author of several novels and works of non-fiction. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, her non-fiction works are largely autobiographical, with strong doses of self-deprecating humor and covering such subjects as alcoholism, single motherhood, and Christianity. She appeals to her fans because of her sense of humor, her deeply felt insights, and her outspoken views on topics such ...more
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