Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son, by Anne LaMott, with Sam LaMott

Sometimes when everyone likes an author or a book and you don't, it doesn't bother you at all because you are confident in your judgment. Almost everyone in my book group loved The Art of Racing in the Rain, for example--I despised it and had no desire to give the author or book another try. But Anne LaMott has always been a different problem. I've read several of her books and not been wowed by them, but have enjoyed some of her humor and her ability to capture abstract ideas in felicitous phrases. And so many people that I respect love her and find her work uplifting/inspiring that I keep giving her another chance.

With Some Assembly Required, I may have finally crossed over to the point where I will never read another LaMott book, no matter how many of my friends admire her! The book is LaMott's journal of the first year in her grandson's life; interspersed throughout are thoughts from her son, who became a father at 19 (and whose reflections are about what you'd expect from a 19-year-old trying to be very serious). LaMott seems not to have a good sense of the boundaries grandparents should respect (IMHO); of course, her son and his partner open themselves up to her intrusions by accepting her financial support. Somehow her usual openness about her weaknesses, which she generally presents as humorous and endearing, becomes totally and whiningly unappealing. Just one example: She's devastated because the child's Catholic mother might want him to be baptized in her own church? Get a grip, woman!  The book isn't funny or inspiring and, at last, I feel able to liberate myself from Anne LaMott.

Favorite passage:
We aren't a drop in the ocean, but are the ocean, in drops.

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