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Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son Hardcover – March 20, 2012

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Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son + Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Lamott burst onto the literary scene in 1993 with Operating Instructions, her achingly honest account of her son Sam’s first year of life, endearing herself to single mothers, parents, and even nonparents. She is set to do the same thing now for grandparenthood, as she and Sam explore their first year with Sam’s son, Jax. When Sam announced that he and recent girlfriend Amy were about to become parents, Lamott reacted as only Lamott could, with a joyful “Oh, yes!” followed by a fearful “Oh, no!” After all, at fiftysomething, she was too young to be a grandmother, and at 19, Sam was too young to be a father. But tell all that to Jax, who is, of course, the Perfect Baby. That his parents’ relationship is less so is a source of constant consternation for Lamott, who tries to fix things in her own inimitable and irritating way. Funny, frantic, and frustrating, Lamott enthusiastically embraces this new chapter in her life, learning that she is a wiser grandparent than parent who, nevertheless, managed to produce one pretty remarkable son. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Best-selling Lamott will delight her avid fans and attract new readers among fellow grandparents as she goes on a national tour and makes media appearances. --Carol Haggas


“[Lamott’s] crisp writing and self-deprecating honesty ring charmingly true.”


“[Some Assembly Required is] full of Lamott’s trademark neurotic spirituality, and it’s one Lamott’s fans will want.”

The Washington Post

“Wonderful . . . [with] Lamott’s trademark sharp wit and self-deprecating humor . . . Like so many of Lamott’s books, [Some Assembly Required] leaves readers with new insights.”

—The Associated Press

“[Lamott’s] typical combination of astuteness and wit . . . As always, Lamott’s ‘raggedy faith’ is central to her, and whether you share her concerns or not, you appreciate her candor.”


“The story of one year in a woman’s life, a year that happens to include the arrival of a blanket-bundled gift for Lamott and her longtime readers.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“[Some Assembly Required] highlights the trademark humor we've come to expect from Lamott, with laugh-out-loud one-liners that are both self-deprecating and wise … a welcome addition in the larger Gospel of Lamott.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Funny, insightful, irreverent…filled with humor and the author's quirky faith…Bound to do for grandmothers what the earlier book did for mothers — bring them insight and sanity in the midst of chaos.”
The Denver Post

“Anne Lamott’s singular gift for bringing readers into the intimate circle of her life flows effortlessly in this new memoir, mixing the absurd and sublime with her usual alchemical genius…you’ll be seduced by the darkly comic tone, self-deprecating wit, and relentless honesty; she somehow makes the bumps and joys of her life intensely relatable. She can capture the bliss and beauty of tiny emotional events in a few perfect words, then skewer her own worst impulses with brutal hilarity.”
Bust Magazine   

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; 1st edition (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159448841X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594488412
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #604,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer VINE VOICE on March 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I read Anne Lamott's book about her son Sam's first year of life (Operating Instructions) back during my first year of motherhood. So, in some twisted and narcissistic way, I had it in my head that her son Sam was about the same age as my son--as that is when I became aware of him. (It could also have been a persistent "mommy brain" notion that never quite left me.) So it was with a bit of a shock when I saw Lamott's new memoir, Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son. "How could little Sam possibly have a child?" I marveled to myself. Of course, Sam isn't 7 like my son. He is 19. (Still pretty young to be a father but certainly within the realm of believability.) Always wanting to find out "how things turned out" in any story, I eagerly started the book--excited to catch up with Anne and Sam's life since we last spent time together.

Within a few pages, I was reminded of just why I love Anne Lamott. She has a brutal honesty about herself and her life that is both self-depreciating, amusing and authentic. She writes from her heart, and she isn't afraid to show us all aspects of herself--from her neurotic and selfish sides to the spiritual and open searching soul she works on so assiduously. Her writing is never fancy or condescending. Rather, it is heartfelt yet with a sly irreverence and joking tone that always lets you know she is aware of her frailties and flaws. I'd love to have her as a friend.

The subject of her son's first son is fraught with all kinds of emotional minefields that challenge Anne in a myriad of different ways. Not only does she struggle with the idea becoming a grandmother at the age of 55, but her son's complex and volatile relationship with his girlfriend Amy adds a tricky new dimension to Anne's relationship with her grandchild Jax.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By AudreyLM on March 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is the humble offering of an ardent and longtime Lamott fan for the title of the (hopefully) inevitable memoir of Jax's son's first year. And for the lesson I always learn from Anne in the most delicious, hilarious, brilliant possible way: Life is not perfect. People are not perfect. Most important, WE are not perfect, and we do need to settle for less perfection in life than we had perhaps hoped for. The good news is that we never need to settle when it comes to spiritual connection, a lesson always reinforced for me by Anne Lamott. I loved Operating Instructions (and all of Anne's books) and was thrilled to download this one right away on Audible. It was an absolute joy. Very dear to hear both Anne and Sam's voices and I am filled with gratitude to both of them for sharing their journeys so transparently. And Anne, BLESS YOU for being you, fears and joys and schadenfreude and all, because it goes a long way in helping me to accept being me. Because this book is not really about Jax, and this review isn't really about your book. The book is about you and the review is about me, as everything we write is ultimately about ourselves. But because your "story" is so much like mine (well except for the brilliant successful writer part!) I can read about you and learn about me. Which is also why I love memoir.

So I have three thousand favorite lines from this literally laugh-out-loud funny book but because I listened to it rather than read it I can't go back and repeat them here. Anyway I wouldn't want readers to miss the chance to enjoy each gem yourselves. One very awesome line I do remember is attributed to Anne's friend Tom: "Either you learn to live with paradox and ambiguities or you will be six years old for the rest of your life." Ain't it the truth. I don't always like paradox and ambiguity but I like being my age and hope I live long enough to read the next installment of Lamott History.
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful By SHJ on May 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is the first of Lamott's books that I have read and I was very disappointed. Other reviewers have done a good job in their critique of her tone, narcissism and the uninteresting prose. She does a good job of painting herself as a self-centered and controlling person while she plays the role of saint and family matriarch. She positions herself as the benevolent provider for her son's young family while in her inner thoughts she openly criticizes their decisions and resents this role. While her openness may be endearingly "human" to some, the fact that she published all of this in a book with little (or, at least, highly edited) input from the young parents is immediately off-putting. She frequently writes about her son's tumultuous relationship with the mother of the baby, yet she is rarely critical of her son's position and almost always critical of the mother. If I were her "daughter-in-law," I would want to run far away.
Lamott's indulgence in writing about her control issues and anxiety are enough to make this an uncomfortable read, but I would like to point out a few other things that upset me about the book. Early in the narrative, I was struck by how insensitive Lamott is toward baby Jax's mother, Amy. The description of her labor and delivery were graphic and unflattering - it was clear already that Lamott sees this young woman as a threat. She openly criticizes Amy's strong will and decision to have natural chilbirth unaided by pain medication. She undermines Amy by disrespecting her right to make decisions regarding her body and her child. By p. 17 I was outraged at an objectifying description of Amy's changing body and large breasts (which included a jab at her bra size).
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