Monday, March 9, 2015

Book Review: Small Victories

I love Anne Lamott's writing. I love Anne Lamott's books on writing. I like Anne Lamott's other books.

Small Victories: Spotting Improbably Moments of Grace is a collection of essays. If I had read the cover with more care, I would have noticed the words "New and Selected Essays." Thus, I wouldn't have had the confusion over why so many of the essays seemed to jump around in time frame. I guess I was anticipating this to be a new work of Lamott's, written from her perspective today, in the now. Many of the essays were old, written from the perspective of fifteen or twenty years ago. In some, her son is two, in others he is the father of her grandson. I don't know why, but I found that to be a little unsettling. I wanted the here and now, not a diatribe against George W. Bush in every other essay. We don't ever really hear anything about her opinions of politics today. But, we hear loads about her political leanings in these essays which are supposed to be focused on "hope, joy, and grace." I don't know why politics falls into the subjects of hope, joy, and grace, really.

I didn't dislike the book. I found plenty of things to think about ... like forgiveness and our response to suffering. I loved her quotes from Rumi, especially the one which says, "Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure." This is a truth I love to think about. Even in our darkest hours, there is the capacity for finding real meaning and great value. And Lamott knows how to tease out meaning and value from the sucky things in life like cancer and the loss of best friends and parents. While she approaches forgiveness with more hesitancy than I do, she captures the struggle quite well with her eloquently crafted words.

Some of the moments are tense and anxious. Some are funny and ridiculous (like the turbulent flight or her jump from the ski lift). Despite the underlying sense of anger, all the moments lend some small nugget of truth. And, like I said, I love the way she writes. It is beautiful. The words are perfect. I would read her books for the delicious use of words alone.

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