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Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – April 12, 1994


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Product Details

  • Series: Ballantine Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Later Printing edition (April 12, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044990928X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449909287
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,108,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The most honest, wildly enjoyable book written about motherhood is surely Anne Lamott's account of her son Sam's first year. A gifted writer and teacher, Lamott (Crooked Little Heart) is a single mother and ex-alcoholic with a pleasingly warped social circle and a remarkably tolerant religion to lean on. She responds to the changes, exhaustion, and love Sam brings with aplomb or outright insanity. The book rocks from hilarious to unbearably poignant when Sam's burgeoning life is played out against a very close friend's illness. No saccharine paean to becoming a parent, this touches on the rage and befuddlement that dog sweeter emotions during this sea change in one's life.

From Publishers Weekly

Magazine columnist and novelist Lamott ( All New People ) captures both the poignancy and comedy of her first year as a single mother in this wonderfully candid diary. Her quirky humor steadily draws the reader into her unconventional world as she describes her friends and neighbors in northern California, her participation in a local church, her experiences as a recovering alcoholic and--best of all--her infant son, Sam, born in 1989. She covers maternal emotions from rapturous bliss to bare fury ("In the middle of the colic death marches, I end up looking at the baby with those hooded eyes that were in the old ads for The Boston Strangler "). Throughout, she airs her strong political and religious beliefs. And when her best friend, Pammy, is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Lamott conveys her anguish with the same depth of feeling and sense of the absurd that characterize her observations about her son, God, recovery, writing, Republicans, men and life as usual. Even non-parents will enjoy this glowing work.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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

Anne Lamott's writing style was wonderful and refreshing to me.
"kimmytay"
I highly recommend reading this book--or giving it as a gift during your next baby shower.
Jolene B.
I have read this book countless times - and laugh out loud each time.
J. Allman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is a pleasure to read. Fast, nervous, searching--it's a great reassurance to any woman experiencing the very real demands of pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering.
Lamott is a self-confessed non-superwoman--preoccupied with Sam in the early months of his life, it is as much as she can do to brush her teeth, let alone get out of bed. Writing, her life's work? She obviously misses it, but for a few difficult months, even as she is sole-breadwinner for her little family--she just can't get up the energy to do it. The reader knows that she finished this book, that she kept on writing--but the reader also understands that for a certain time period Lamott was paralyzed by her new experience.
The book is very obviously adapted from a real journal--prior to Sam's birth, she worries about the fact that he is male. She worries about his alien genitals, and goes for circumcision because it's obviously what she likes in a man, as much as it is for any health reasons. These worries fade once Sam is born, replaced by the reality of colic, poop, and struggle for a balance between "Sam-time" and "Mom-time." It shows Lamott's talent as a writer that this sequential experience of changes in her baby's life comes as a strength, not a weakness.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Catherine S. Vodrey on March 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
Anne Lamott's "Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year" is one of the most honest--painfully so--books I've ever read on both pregnancy and new motherhood. Given the strictures of Lamott's situation at the time--no man around to help her or take responsibility for his child--the humor in this book is nothing short of amazing. After a particularly frustrating episode of feeding solids to her son Sam, Lamott writes that the process is a lot like spackling; you fill the hole with stuff, scrape around the sides, try to pack some more stuff in the hole, and so on. This was so true and so perfectly described that I laughed out loud with recognition. Although Lamott's situation isn't everyone's, the difficulties, fears and joys she describes herein are universal to most new parents. This makes a marvelous gift for the new mom who has everything else and who could use a good laugh.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Binette on October 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
When I gave birth to a son in 1997 I, quite honestly, didn't know what hit me. I felt joy and wonder but I wasn't "blissed out" the way the people around me expected me to be. I was too frightened by my changing life to be able to live in the moment, laugh at the mishaps, and enjoy the "new guy." The "life-line" I found was literally this book. I read it over and over, as if it was some tonic that assuaged my fears about "doing everything right" and being a perfect mother. I can't tell you the number of times I quoted Lamott's writings to others. She helped me get through a difficult period and adjust. This book changed me. Read it. Lamott is a gifted writer who tells it like it (REALLY) is.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Brett Benner VINE VOICE on August 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
With unflinching honesty Anne LaMott loosely recounts the first year of her son's life. As a recovering alcoholic and single Mother, she vacillates between hair pulling frustration and utter awe as her son changes month by month, sometimes day by day. Surrounded by an incredible support staff of friends and family, and an unwavering faith in God she navigates the path of parenthood and life with a wicked sense of humor that leaves you laughing out loud one minute and then pricking your heart with moving eloquence.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sonya Lindsey on June 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
I read this book in 40-minute intervals while my son was nursing...and what a perfect way it was to spend those long, sleepless nights! Sometimes I was blind with baby-worship and othertimes I was glad to read how Anne restrained herself from leaving her baby on the front porch to test out Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest. She describes everything in such a fresh and funny way and made me appreciate things that had passed unnoticed -- like the "scritch scritch scritch" that their tiny fingers make--it never occured to me that it "sounds like someone who has been buried alive and is scratching the top of a coffin"...however once I read that, sure enough--that's what it sounds like! (My son continues to make that sound to this day...probably because he knows how much it creeps me out now) I just love how manic her maternal feelings are--from hope, buoyancy and joy to hate, fear and loathing all within the same 5 minutes. It certainly is therapy to be able to read another mom's journal and breathe a sigh of relief (and recognition) and say...oh good, this crazy mood will end. I really enjoyed her company those first few months after our baby was born. I can understand though, how some of the more perfect women in the world might have trouble appreciating her. She's very human.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on June 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
I'm a Californian, I'm a writer (Baby Catcher, Scribner 2002), I'm a mother and midwife, and I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Anne Lamott fan - and Operating Instructions is one of Annie's very, very best. With wit, humor, and brutal honesty, she chronicles the pregnancy, birth, and 1st year of her son Sam's life. At the same time, she shares the illness, decline and death of her best friend, Pammy. Written with her usual inimitable and quirky take on Life and populated by her usual quirky cast of characters, Operating Instructions will stand the test of time.
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