Sunday, September 2, 2007

Review: Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

So there are good things about being sick, one of which is that I have nothing to do and some books piled on my nightstand. What the heck; may as well read all day!

I read this one for Nattie; it's one of the five books she picked that said something about her. I generally don't read non-fiction. It just never seems to be able to hold my interest, even when I wish it would.

This book I finished in two days. I literally guffawed out loud numerous times during the book. I can't remember when I've laughed so much in a book. I also was compelled to read passages to my husband, something I rarely do because he does not read and can't comprehend the hilarity of words on a page. I had a hard time reading them out loud because I was laughing so hard, and it even got a laugh from him.

Anyone who has ever been a first time mother will just revel in the total honesty of how all consuming and confusing that first year is. There's a lot of forgiveness here too, if you're still confused about how you can love your kid so much and still want to disappear into the woods never to be seen again.

I also just love her irreverence about religion. She is highly spiritual, highly respectful of God, and yet clear and unapologetic about how she arrived there. If that was part of what Nattie related to, I like her even more than I already did.

The sad part was that Anne had a best friend who, in the latter part of the book, got a severe form of cancer. There's a postscript saying that she died shortly after the end of the book. Wow. That, of course, got me thinking of Nattie more than I already was. How ironic that Nattie chose this book to say something about her, not knowing that it would parallel her life more than she knew.

I finished it sad and disturbed, thinking of Nattie and all unfair, untimely deaths. What a great book, though.


alisonwonderland said...

i loved Operating Instructions - which was my introduction to Anne Lamott. i also loved Traveling Mercies and, to a slightly lesser extent, Plan B.

great review - and nice tribute to Nattie and "all unfair, untimely deaths"!

Sarah Miller said...

I'm another big fan of Operating Instructions. If you liked Lamott's approach to religion, I'd recommend Plan B. It's my favorite of her religious essays.