four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
16-May-June-2005
By: 
Anne Lamott
user_rating: 
0

Further Thoughts on Faith

A-PlanBIn her spiritual and temporal sequel to her bestselling Traveling Mercies (1999), the beloved Lamott—a left-wing, New-Agey recovered alcoholic, single mother, and self-described "raging insecure narcissist"—examines everyday Christian faith. In two dozen essays, she covers topics requiring constant faith: her feelings of anger and guilt; her "love your enemies" approach to the Bush administration; the death of the family dog; her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s; her relationship with her adolescent son (and his with his own father); and a trip to the Caribbean, where she makes peace with her "aunties" (thighs). Full of profound insight and laughter, each daily trial offers renewed hope in the face of despair. Just open your heart.
Riverhead. 336 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 1573222992

Chicago Sun-Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"In truth, I could have wallpapered an entire room with brilliant bits of Lamott’s witty, profound observations about life—this one and the hereafter." Cathleen Falsani

Boston Herald 4 of 5 Stars
"Lamott, a hip holy roller, has a way of bringing out the born-again in even the devil himself. Maybe that’s because Lamott is at her best when she writes about being at your worst, and Plan B is further proof of just that." Lauren Beckham Falcone

Charlotte Observer 4 of 5 Stars
"To read Lamott is like finding a friend you can talk to about anything. She starts conversations inside you and helps you begin to talk with yourself in a new way. … Join her along the path where no matter how hard life seems we can ‘enjoy every sandwich, and give thanks.’" Stephen H. Shoemaker

Miami Herald 4 of 5 Stars
"Just like her other works, Plan B brings joy indeed." Connie Ogle

Oregonian 4 of 5 Stars
"Her essays are easy to trust because they do not try to convince the reader of anything; staying true to the form, they are the author’s attempts to find her own truth. … profoundly and authentically spiritual." Sarah Cypher

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"Plan B is an amusing, refreshing discussion of the practical matters of faith and religion that is welcome at a time when the debate of such topics often leads to histrionic factionalism. … Lamott originally wrote many of the essays for her column on Salon.com, and some of them feel more rooted in the occasion that prompted them than a part of the overall narrative." Jenny Shank

Entertainment Weekly 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Though she has some of the trappings of a New Age flake, Lamott is a ferociously smart, droll, and original writer who has been chronicling an uncommonly openhearted struggle to lead a sane and moral life, drawing judiciously from whatever traditions speak sense to her. … Whether or not you agree with Lamott’s left-leaning political views, her attempts to stop ‘scorning my president’ fall flat." Jennifer Reese

Critical Summary

Traveling Mercies chronicled Lamott’s slow journey toward faith. Now in her 50s, Lamott still insists upon sugarcoating nothing in this enlightening update. She combines brilliant sparks of wit, self-deprecating humor, wisdom, and appreciation in these 24 essays, previously published in Salon (see http://dir.salon.com/topics/anne_lamott/ for an excerpt from Plan B). If some have a moralistic bent, they rarely proselytize; instead, they inquire into Lamott’s own, and sometimes naughty, truths. The best essays discuss Lamott’s son’s relationship with his father; conversely, Entertainment Weekly cited the piece about loving George W. Bush as Jesus as "an easy comic stunt." But the lesson is the same: "Gratitude, not understanding, is the secret to joy and equanimity." Although Lamott has had her share of life struggles, she sure makes it look easy. Buck up, kid: As Lamott says, "God has extremely low standards."