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Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith Paperback – February 26, 2008


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Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith + Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith + Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; Reprint edition (February 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159448287X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594482878
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Through Anne Lamott's many books (including six novels, her bestselling parenting memoir, Operating Instructions, and her popular guide to writing, Bird by Bird) the subject she keeps returning to is her faith, her deeply personal--"erratic," she says--journey in Christianity. Her latest book, Grace (Eventually), is her third collection of her "thoughts on faith," and she took the time to answer a few of our questions.

Questions for Anne Lamott

Amazon.com: This is your third book on faith. How has your perspective changed since you wrote your first one?

Lamott: I wrote my first book on faith when Bill Clinton was president, and I was in a much better mood. I wrote Plan B during the run-up to war in Iraq, and the ensuing catastrophe, so I was very angry, but trying to reconcile that pain and hostility to Jesus's insistence that we are made of love, to love, and be loved, to forgive and be forgiven. Some days went better than others. Also, my son Sam was in his early teens, and that was a LOT easier than when he turned 16 and 17, his ages when I was writing the pieces in Grace (Eventually).

In general, I think Grace (Eventually) is a less angry book. I like how I'm aging, except that my back hurts more often, my knees crack like twigs when I squat, and my memory fails more frequently, in more public and therefore humiliating ways. But I think I complain less. As my best friend said when she was dying, and I was obsessing about my butt, "You just don't have that kind of time."

Amazon.com: What does grace mean for you? How can we better communicate it to each other?

Lamott: Grace is that extra bit of help when you think you are really doomed; also, not coincidentally, when you have finally run out of good ideas on how to proceed, and on how better to control the people or circumstances that are frustrating or defeating you. I experience Grace as a cool ribbon of fresh air when I feel spiritually claustrophobic. Sometimes I experience it as water-wings, something holding me up when I am afraid that I'm going down, or the tide is carrying me away. I know that Grace meets us whereever we are, but does not leave us where it found us. Sometimes it is so small--a couple of seconds relief here, several extra inches there. I wish it were big and obvious, like sky-writing. Oh, well. Grace is not something I DO, or can chase down; but it is something I can receive, when I stop trying to be in charge.

We communicate grace to one another by holding space for people when they are hurt or terrified, instead of trying to fix them, or manage their emotions for them. We offer ourselves as silent companionship, or gentle listening when someone feels very alone. We get people glasses of water when they are thirsty.

Amazon.com: Many of the essays in Grace (Eventually) first appeared in Salon, the online magazine, and that's the way that many readers first found you. How do you see the Internet changing the way people read and write?

Lamott: The Internet makes everything so immediate and spontaneous, which I totally love--UNLESS it has to do with the immediacy of people's negative response to me. Several of the Salon pieces in Grace--for instance, the story about the horrible fight with my son, and the piece about turning the other cheek while being ripped off by The Carpet Guy--generated a couple hundred letters, many of them extremely hostile. Perhaps "spewy" would be a better description. I also sometimes get knee-jerk responses to my mentions of Jesus in my Salon pieces that seem to lump me in the same tradition as Jerry Falwell. But for the most part, I love the populism and egalitarian nature of the Internet: everyone counts the same.

Amazon.com: What stories do people tell you, when they've read your books or know you are a writer?

Lamott: People tell me how relieved they are that I try to tell the truth about how hard it can be to be a mother, or a daughter, or an American in these times. They tell me stories about how awful their own teenagers can be, or how awful they themselves behaved towards their kids or parents; how hard it was to finally be able to adore their mothers, or to forgive their fathers. They tell me their sobriety dates. They whisper to me that they are Christians, too.

Also, they ask if I am able to read their manuscripts, and the name of my agent, and my e-mail address. They ask if we are going to survive the current political difficulties--and I promise them we are. They ask how old my son is now--17 and a half--and how he is doing, which is fantastically, after some of the hard months I wrote about in Grace.

Amazon.com:What lessons do you think you can pass on to others: to your readers, to your son? What lessons does it seem like people have to learn for themselves?

Lamott: All I have to offer is my own truth, my own experience, strength and hope. I can pass on the tool of a God Box, and how for 20 years I have been putting tiny notes in mine and promising God I will keep my sticky fingers off the controls until I hear God's wisdom: sometimes I get an answer because the phone rings, or the mail comes, but at any rate, during every single terrible problem and tragedy, I have been given enough guidance and stamina and even humor to bear up, and be transformed, for the good. I always tell Sam that if you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans. I tell Sam that if he listens to his best thinking, he will suffer: and to listen to his heart instead, to listen in the silence, and to seek wise counsel.

Amazon.com: You've written nearly a dozen books (including an incredibly popular guide to writing): does writing get any easier? Does it get harder?

Lamott: In a very important way, writing gets easier, because I've been doing it full time now for thirty-plus years, and just as you would get better and better if you practiced your scales on a piano, I've gotten better, and can try harder and harder pieces. But writing is always hard. It does not come naturally to me at all. I sit down at the same time every day, which lets my subconscious realize it's time to get to work. I give myself very short assignments, and let myself write really terrible first drafts. But I grapple with the exact same problems every writer does, which is having equal proportions of self-loathing and grandiosity. I sort of live by the Nike ads: Just Do It. So I sit down. I show up. I do it by pre-arrangement with myself, because I know I'll feel sad and terrible if I shirk on that days writing. I do it as a debt of honor, to myself, and to whatever it is that has given me this gift of being able to tell stories, and to make people laugh. Laughter is carbonated holiness. Other people's good writing is medicine for me, and I hope mine is too, for my readers.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

It would be easy to mistake this book for more of the same. Like Lamott's earlier spiritual nonfiction, Traveling Mercies and Plan B, it's a collection of essays, mostly previously published. The three books have strikingly similar covers and nearly identical subtitles. The familiar topics are here—Mom; her son, illness; death; addictions; Jesus; Republicans—as is the zany attitude. Not that repetitiveness matters; Lamott's faithful fans would line up to buy her shopping lists. But these recent essays show a new mellowness: "I don't hate anyone right now, not even George W. Bush. This may seem an impossibility, but it is true, and indicates the presence of grace or dementia, or both." With gentle wisdom refining her signature humor, Lamott explores helpfulness, decency, love and especially forgiveness. She explains the change: "Sometimes I act just as juvenile as I ever did, but as I get older, I do it for shorter periods of time. I find my way back to the path sooner, where there is always one last resort: get a glass of water and call a friend." Here's hoping that grace eventually persuades this older, wiser Lamott that her next nonfiction book should be wholly original. (Mar. 20)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Anne Lamott is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Grace (Eventually), Plan B, Traveling Mercies, and Operating Instructions, as well as seven novels, including Rosie and Crooked Little Heart. She is a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Customer Reviews

One exception is Anne Lamott's books.
Jay K.
Claiming redemption or hope for those without it comes way too close, I think, to an act of willful arrogance and even appropriation.
Catherine Carter
I actually expected this to be a book of at least a modicum of substance, so I was thoroughly disappointed at the end.
LWSpotts

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

140 of 150 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Oh, how I adore little Anne. For years, this lady has inspired my writing, made me laugh, and challenged my perceptions. Most of the time I'm right there cheering with her. Occasionally, we disagreee--but I think she would love me anyway.

"Traveling Mercies" (one of my all-time favorite books) was a sprawling, messy, beautiful tale of life and faith and day-to-day struggle. "Plan B" was more of the same, but with political teeth sharpened on the grindstone of Mr. Bush's policies. "Grace (Eventually)" shows a softer side of Anne, a maturing maybe, or an acceptance of the things she cannot change. She talks about her son, her dog, her mother, her church, her city, all with a tone of reconciliation.

Don't get me wrong. Anne still wants change. She still says things that will push a lot of buttons--regarding assisted suicide and abortion, for example. She also continues to express a belief in Jesus and His teachings and His example of love and mercy. For those annoyed by the cultural environment, she gives a call to more understanding. For those who disagree with her, she also calls for grace by asking us to accept her as she is in all her authentic imperfection.

I didn't walk away from this book with sublime shock and laughter (as I did with "Traveling Mercies") or with pent-up frustration (as I did with "Plan B"), I walked away with a sense of gentleness and a desire to extend that same grace to others. I guess you could call that a success.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mathew W. Moran on August 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
One of the most popular voices in contemporary spirituality, Anne Lamott has a remarkable gift at handling serious and unfunny topics - religion, motherhood, eating disorders, death - in a witty and disarming way.

Lamott's new book, "Grace Eventually: Further Thoughts On Faith," is a collection of essays, many of which Lamott wrote as a columnist for Salon.com. If you haven't read anything by Lamott before, the best places to start would be "Traveling Mercies" (her bestselling memoir), and "Bird by Bird," (one of the best guide to writing anywhere, another bestseller). But the two things you should know before reading Anne Lamott is that 1) she is an incredible prose artist, quirky and profound, with a style that seems all her own. And 2) she is almost completely neurotic.

"Grace Eventually," is a special book in that Lamott's description of ordinary events make them feel sacred. She is a writer with an ability to make the reader pay attention, feel present, and tune in to the story taking place around them. Although she refers to Jesus consistently, there is little that seems orthodox about Lamott's spiritual journey, and perhaps that is one of the reasons she has such a wide readership.

You'd have to be made out of granite not to find something that moves you in this unique collection of essays. You would also need to adhere to Lamott's precise and strident political positions not to find at least one portion of this book infuriating. Either way, "Grace Eventually" is a provocative and unique read, and any avid reader owes it to themselves to become familiar with one of the country's top writers.
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69 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Jay K. on March 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Usually I take quite a while to read through books before I buy them. One exception is Anne Lamott's books. If she writes them, I'll read them, because she her writing is honest, caring, good story telling and lots of fun, even with the topics of grace and faith. She has the kind of writing that makes me wish I'd studied harder and knew all the words in the dictionary. (Not because she uses a lot of fancy, big words. Far from it. She just uses them so perfectly, so suited to what she is saying, so originally. I feel like the rest of us are amateurs with the English language and she is a pro.) Lamott doesn't let herself off the hook easily, nor does she softsoap life and its effects. But she does get it.

This book will be a good read because it will make you think--and think better. In this work Lamott shares her life and friends and family and herself. She has child-like feelings and inspired thoughts. I love writing that surprises me with simplicity and originality. That's why I love her work.

If you like this book another one of Lamott's earlier works, Bird by Bird, is an all time favorite of mine. She deals with how to become a writer. And she makes it seem possible--and like she's in your corner.
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I always enjoy reading Anne Lamott and this book was going along swell. She has an easy, casual manner that makes it feel like you're having a best-friend discussion sitting at the kitchen counter. But in this book I got SO tired of her blaming EVERYTHING that's wrong in the world on George Bush. It's like we were all basking around here on Heaven-On-Earth until Mr. Meanie screwed it all up. Her writing seems so smart and sensitive yet her political comments were so stupid. Not the most enjoyable read for me.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Joel S. Frady on August 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
There were parts of this book that were profound and powerful, drawing me into thinking deeply about the goodness of God and the challenges of life. The sections about Lamott's relationship with her son were particularly poignant, as was the chapter on assisted suicide. Lamott's reflections on nature and her own growth as a person (getting sober, coming to terms with her family background) were also helpful and encouraging.
The book was somewhat spoiled for me by rants about right-wingers and George W. Bush and abortion and various other things. Being shrill is not the badge of authentic humanity. Lamott needs to extend some grace to those with whom she disagrees without demonizing them. In fact, if such an approach could be extended to our entire culture we would be better by far.
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