Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Anne Lamott - Bird by Bird

 This is not a formal review. I don't do those. I just read books, and then I think about them a lot and then, sometimes, if I'm feeling bloggerly, I tell you the takeaway.

1. Don't read this book if you're one of those angry, hostile writers Anne is always talking about who just want to get published, and want her to tell you how to do this. She will not tell you how. She will tell you that you most likely won't succeed in gaining this dream, and that if you do, you will most likely not enjoy it once you get there.

How's that for an upper?

2. Anne Lamott is a real person. Her voice and her experience are dripping with down-in-the-trenches-beside-you-my-sista kind of wisdom. She's been there. She's suffered that. She's a human being with all her battle-wounds, and she is going to tell it to you straight. Which is what she wants from you. She wants you to write who you are, with no gloss and no candy-coating. I get the impression that Anne and I could sit down for a four-hour heart-to-heart therapy session, and I'd come away feeling like nothing I said could really surprise her.

3. Anne says that writers need to be present. They need to really live, observe, listen, experience. They need to live life to its fullest. She says that writer's block is a misnomer, because nothing is blocked, in reality we're empty, when we're stuck like that. That we need to fill back up. Live our lives, be with people, view the minutiae, and express it.

I was on a family camping trip with strep throat this weekend while I devoured her book, along with Natalie Whipple's Transparent, and Robison Wells' Variant. (It's amazing what being away from all my responsibilities can do for my reading speed. Good night, I love to lose myself in a good book.) Anyhoo, I was on this camping trip with all these amazing people who I love, and I found myself settling into the moments, noticing things, really noticing them. Seeing the magic in the people and the beauty of the world around me, and writing about it.

4. Anne Lamott is all about the art. She is not about the money or the fame or the idea of being published, although she admits to struggling with all of those demons. But at the heart of it, this book is for people who love to express life honestly through the written word, and want to do more of that in little pieces every day.

5. This book is humane, humble, hilarious, pessimistic, realistic, and delightful. *Go read it, my darlings.

*Go read it with the caveat that her language is a mite salty. She is not too reverent to toss around a few "colorful metaphors." (Thank you Spock in Star Trek IV for that expression.)

6. I am done now. What are you still doing here? If I had been planning on this review, I'd have quotes for you and a format for this blog post. I'm going to bed. But not before brushing off the gross pizza breath from my teeth. Hooray for Colgate.


  1. Yay! You read Transparent! Was it the ARC I gave you? Did you have tons of fun with it?

    As for this not being a review, well, it's not a traditional one, maybe, but it's about the best book coverage I've seen. So much more interesting than a one-paragraph summary and a few lines about what you liked/disliked about it. Also, now I want to go back and read it again.

  2. Yes, Caryn. It was. I really enjoyed it. Thanks so much!

  3. This is the one you recommended to me, isn't it? I'll have to check it out, but only when I'm feeling emotionally brave. :)