Nancy's Reviews > Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son

Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott
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's review
Mar 10, 2012

it was ok

In the end, it's really all about her.

Okay, I get it: it's a memoir. I hate it when I have nothing nice to say about a memoir, because I feel like I'm being mean to the actual people IN the memoir, and three of the main characters in this memoir are very young: Lamott's son Sam, Sam's girfriend Amy, and their little boy. Lamott's memoir is subtitled "A Journal of My Son's First Son," but irritatingly, it is hardly that; rather it is a journal of a weirdly self-absorbed and controlling grandmother and her rather phony-sounding attitudes toward the younger three members of her family. I kept getting the impression that Lamott was saying to herself, "Okay, now, must maintain a relationship with Amy - time to say something nice even though she is making my life hell." Or attitudes to that effect: falseness was the keynote of this memoir. I have read and enjoyed Lamott's previous work and it surprised me immeasurably to discover how much I was NOT enjoying this one. The only thing I can attribute this difference to is that, in her spiritual writing, Lamott is all about the ideas; this time, it really did seem to be all about herself - and this time, I just didn't like her.

Here's a strange thing: two of my daughters picked up this book and read a few pages. These two young women are as different as chalk and cheese, but oddly, they both put the book down after making the identical comment: "Ugh, how can you read this? I can't stand this woman." I wouldn't go that far - there are a few touching moments - but this isn't Lamott's best work by a long shot.
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March 10, 2012 – Shelved
March 10, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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Moira Russell I kept getting the impression that Lamott was saying to herself, "Okay, now, must maintain a relationship with Amy - time to say something nice even though she is making my life hell." Or attitudes to that effect: falseness was the keynote of this memoir

I really felt that too -- I loved Lamott's earlier books, so this was surprising in how disappointing it was. Everything nice she said about Amy sounded really, really fake, and I was put off by the dollar totals of all the money she gave them.

Nancy THANK YOU. I felt bad writing this, but your comment is very affirming! I did not like the dollar $$$ either; but truthfully, I was also put off by Sam and Amy's lack of independent spirit. I mean, sure; it's hard to go to school and have a baby. But most people with new babies are working far more inflexible hours, to put food on the table and diapers on the baby.

Margie Agree, agree, agree. Seemed like she wrote it b/c she believed she had to. Or something. No point to it, really. Disappointing after so much good writing in her other books.

Nancy I read an interview recently that sort of implied that she had been talked into this by her publishers - that she was reluctant to exploit the family relationships. But apparently Sam was gung-ho to do it. She should have gone with her first instinct, I guess.

message 5: by Amy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy Totally agree with you! Well said!

message 6: by Tanya (new)

Tanya Read a bit of it today and won't stay with it.

Heather Nancy, I hate to say it because I have loved Anne Lamott's writing so much, but I totally agree with your review. It felt like she was obligated to do it. It was like she published her diary, which, like all diaries, tends to ramble and says things most wouldn't admit in public. It was the first book of hers that I actually kind of forced myself to finish. I usually feel bad when her books end. That said, I did find there to be a few very inspiring quotes, so I guess it wasn't all for naught.

Nancy Agree. I did feel bad for her son, who clearly really wanted this to be his version of the book his mom wrote about him. The trouble seemed to be that neither of them really had anything to say...except for some things, that, as you note, might be best left unsaid.

Barbara Newhall I agree that Anne Lamott has a lot of ego going on -- in all of her books. But as a mother-in-law-to-be I did find her insights into her own controlling tendencies helpful.

Nancy Yeah. I don't want to dismiss the book totally - just, had some significant problems with it.

message 11: by Cami (new) - added it

Cami Brunjes Did you read Operating Instructions, her journal about Sam's first year? Just wondering if you disliked that one as much, and wondering if I should read this one or not.

Nancy I read it a very long time ago, and I recall that I did like it okay then. I'm not the biggest fan of her parenting ideas, but, you know. Different people do things differently, and it seemed very honest and sincere and funny. I have liked her spiritual writing pretty well, but her fiction, not very much. It's funny: usually when I like an author, I like pretty much everything they write.

message 13: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Cheney Nancy, I so enjoyed Operating Instructions! I gave birth about the same time. I was surprised to hear Sam had become a father at nineteen. I will not read this book so it won't taint the sweet memory of OI. Thank you.

Nancy Actually, I think that's an excellent choice to make! Kind of wish I hadn't read it.

message 15: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Cheney I truly enjoyed yours & Moira's comments about the book. Sam grew up with that book and understandably felt the need to share his POV. What a shame that the two semi adults just couldn't have held off a little to have a baby!

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