four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
28-May-June-2007
By: 
Anne Lamott
user_rating: 
0

Thoughts on Faith

A-Grace EventuallyIn this darkly humorous collection of essays, the third in her Thoughts on Faith series, Anne Lamott explores faith and redemption in the context of everyday life. With sincerity and wit, she shares her day-to-day struggles: failed relationships, binge eating, aging, and the stress of raising a teenager. In "Ski Patrol," she contemplates the meaning of life after the ignominy of falling from a ski lift. "At Death’s Window" finds her helping a terminally ill friend end his life on his own terms. Throughout the collection, she examines the ordinary challenges of life and transforms them into extraordinary opportunities for reflection and insight. "Things are how they are supposed to be," she writes, "all evidence to the contrary."
Riverhead. 272 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 1594489424

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 4.5 of 5 Stars
"As always, her writing is clear, sincere and startling in its twists and turns of phrase. Like Lamott’s Traveling Mercies and Plan B, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith belongs on the shelves of everyone—regardless of religious affiliation or spiritual inclination—who worships great writing." Patricia Corrigan

Charlotte Observer 4 of 5 Stars
"Lamott would seem to be an unlikely guide to matters of faith, and yet she follows in the tradition of the most authentic spiritual mentors of the last 50 years, among them Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen. Like each of these authors, she is willing to reveal the struggle of the soul, staying close to sources of spiritual wisdom, as a way to discover the true self." Kenneth H. Carter, Jr.

San Francisco Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"That’s the kind of spiritual advice Lamott gives: down-to-earth, grounded in hard-luck reality, not some lofty or over-intellectualized pontification. … What keeps me coming back is the writing—the imaginative imagery, the telling metaphors, the clever turns of phrase imbued with passion, heart and wit." Regan McMahon

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars
"This is a Christian even an atheist could still respect in the morning. She’s prone to mean-spirited thoughts and a weakness for ice cream, yet somehow believes (and convinces you) that forgiveness, charity, peace and other near-miracles really happen—we just need to keep our eyes open to see them." Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett

Atlanta Jrnl-Constitution 3.5 of 5 Stars
" darker than her previous work, though no less devout. … What will be disturbing for some of her regular readers are the shadows of hopelessness in this book." Lynn Coulter

Cleveland Plain Dealer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"At first, her prose seemed more tepid than in previous works. … I’m happy to report that grace eventually animates most of Lamott’s essays, about half of which are newly published here." Kristin Ohlson

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Her stories may often sound like frivolous internal monologues, but Lamott is after bigger fish—even though Grace (Eventually) doesn’t stack up next to her earlier works. … Too many stories have lyrical endings that simply seem tacked on." Charlotte Innes

Critical Summary

If you like your spiritual wisdom served with a dollop of sarcasm and a side of reality, then Anne Lamott is for you. Her enduring appeal resides in her willingness to be completely, hilariously honest about experiences that closely resemble the dilemmas her readers face. Critics were pleased to find Lamott’s characteristic candor and biting sense of humor, though some lamented the darker tone of some of the essays compared to that of her previous works—particularly her account of assisted suicide. It’s true that Lamott’s search for grace—the thread connecting these essays—is at times painful and bewildering. "Sometimes grace works like water wings when you feel you are sinking," she explains. If we never sink, how would we learn to float?

First in the Series

Traveling Mercies Some Thoughts on Faith (1999): In this inspiring collection of essays, Lamott poignantly describes her journey from self-destruction to Christianity and takes on such weighty topics as alcoholism, bulimia, and abortion. By turns quirky, irreverent, and crass—though never dogmatic.