Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Traveling Mercies

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott

I first fell in love with Anne Lamott in her book Bird by Bird, a book about the writing process.  In Bird by Bird, she normalizes the writing experience and consequently made me feel less neurotic.  Any writer that can make you feel less neurotic is worth the $15 book (therapy is much more).

While Lamott titles Bird by Bird "Some instructions on writing and life," she paints Traveling Mercies as "Some thoughts on faith."  Traveling Mercies is memoir-style, a series of essays that are separate yet all connected to the whole.  Lamott describes in raw terms her troubled childhood, her at once begrudging and powerful conversion to Christianity, and many moments of pain and hilarity in between. 

She lets herself be completely unpolished for the reader, giving everyone the permission to be nothing but scathingly honest with oneself and one’s life experiences.  She’s often irreverant, sarcastic, and prone to expressions of obscenities, all in the spirit of truth-telling and truth-searching.

I loved how she exposes life’s mystery, tragedy, and irony without denying its startling beauty.  The essence of life is not knowing which one we will be startled with today when we awake: beauty or tragedy.  One day never predicts the next.

I went crazy for the poems and quotes she includes at the beginning of each section, my favorite being the quote from her 7-year old son, “I think I already understand about life: pretty good, some problems.”

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