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Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 10, 2014
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“Lamott is beloved by legions for her smart, irreverent take on the human condition, filtered through her unique brand of compassionate Christianity and delivered with delicious, self-deprecating wit. Lamott goes even deeper in these essays.”
“Anne Lamott is practically a household word in the peeling-back-the-soul department. She's utterly disarming. She's hysterically funny. One minute, you're falling off your chair laughing, and the next, you're gasping for air, because Lamott has just unfurled a sentence that cuts straight to the heart of what you really needed to know. … Lamott is one in a million… Hers is an inimitable mix of irreverence and deep-down holy wisdom. Her wit is so sharp, her synapses fire so quickly, she deftly connects the dots and vaults across the spiritual landscape like nobody else…Lamott grounds the holy in the messy, hilarious, madcap adventure that is her life. And she sees the truth so piercingly perceptibly, we're left slack-jawed and wiser in her wake.”
“A collection of beautifully written essays, filled with nuggets of wisdom gathered over years of mindful living. The stories tackle some heavy topics … [but] Lamott's candor, and sarcastic, self-deprecating humor lighten the content and engage readers. …Her words heal us all.”
“[Lamott’s] insightful and often hilarious prose celebrates the little lessons that everyday challenges can teach us.”
“Most [of Lamott’s essays] balance wry, acidic humor with deeper feeling — most often, a longing for grace and a sense of gratitude for its manifestations.”
—The Boston Globe
“Prime examples of Lamott's crystalline insights and wicked wit. There are laugh-out-loud moments…and frank revelations about her personal brand of ‘left-wing Christianity,’ that sound a clarion call to social activism rather than sanctimonious judgment. It is so good to hear from her again.”
—The Austin Chronicle
“Lamott can infuse even the darkest material with humor and uplifting revelations. Much loved by fans, her books are on many a nightstand within reach for hour-of-the-wolf reading.”
—New York Daily News
“Lamott is funny, witty and irreverent…Her basic message is love and forgiveness…Not a bad message for any faith.”
—The Denver Post
“Lamott once again summons her calm and reassuring voice to tenderly grab us by the hand and walk us through the most uncomfortable moments we may ever encounter in life: pain, suffering, betrayal and loneliness. Lamott masterfully and matter-of-factly recounts her battles with sobriety, her complex relationship with her family, and how she ultimately found her voice through spirituality. Heavy? Yes. But within each bracingly honest story, Lamott lathers on her trademark humor.”
“Anne Lamott embraces language and life with equal zest, squeezing from the intersection wisdom of the most soul-stretching kind…A master of the touchpoint between wit and wisdom, Lamott adds to the poignant a wink of the playful…Small Victories is an enormously ennobling read in its entirety.”
“[Lamott is] perhaps the best popular essayist America has produced in decades…[Small Victories] brings together a range of heartfelt journalistic and spiritual writings, which have all the pleasures and accessibility, the humor and surprise, of her longer books…A must for all Lamott fans and a fine point of entry for newcomers.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
"Honest, witty essays on the hidden blessings in life…Sage advice on finding beauty and happiness in life despite bad circumstances.”
“An essay collection that tackles tough subjects with sensitive and unblinking honesty…Lamott is refreshingly frank…[and] has the rare ability to weave bracing humor seamlessly with earnest, Christian faith.”
“Thank goodness for Anne Lamott. Her writing style, both unfussy and diaphanous, her congeniality, loopy humor and dogged optimism are balms. Her latest book, Small Victories is a gem…Surely, when it comes to questions of faith, Lamott is to essay writing what Marilynne Robinson is to fiction. Awesome.”
Praise for Anne Lamott
“Lamott writes essays…that are howlingly funny mini-sermons, reminding us of what’s important in life.”
—Los Angeles Times
“[Lamott] has a gift for putting into words what it means to accept and ultimately embrace the beauty, mystery, and pain that is life.”
—San Antonio Express-News
“The wickedly witty and very funny Lamott…makes you laugh at the same time she makes you think.”
“[Lamott] can capture the bliss and beauty of tiny emotional events in a few perfect words, then skewer her own worst impulses with brutal hilarity.”
“Anne Lamott is a cause for celebration. [Her] real genius lies in capturing the ineffable, describing not perfect moments, but imperfect ones…perfectly. She is nothing short of miraculous.”
—The New Yorker
“Anne Lamott has married a razor-sharp wit to a disarming spiritual sincerity. A ferociously smart, droll, and original writer.”
About the Author
Anne Lamott is the New York Times bestselling author of Help, Thanks, Wow; Small Victories; Stitches; Some Assembly Required; Grace (Eventually); Plan B; Traveling Mercies; Bird by Bird; Operating Instructions, and the forthcoming Hallelujah Anyway. She is also the author of several novels, including Imperfect Birds and Rosie. A past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an inductee to the California Hall of Fame, she lives in Northern California.
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"Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace" is a collection of new essays and selected pieces from Anne's older books. Through these essays Anne assures us that we can prevail over the pain and suffering in our lives, and that these small victories change us--for the better--along the way. While the stories she tells are about her own life, so much of what Anne writes resonates with me. (I went through almost a whole pad of Sticky Notes marking passages I don't want to forget.) Her take on the world is so refreshing and she writes about spirituality without making you feel like you're being hit over the head with a Bible.
For example, in "Forgiven" Anne writes:
"The Scripture reading came from the sixth chapter of Luke: 'Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.' Now, try as I might, I cannot find a loophole in that. It does not say, 'Forgive everyone, unless they've said something rude about your child.' And it doesn't even say, 'Just try.' It says, If you want to be forgiven, if you want to experience that kind of love, you have to forgive everyone in your life--everyone, even the very worst boyfriend you ever had--even, for God's sake, yourself." Amen, Anne.
You will find yourself thinking hard about a lot of lines/passages in this book. In "Trail Ducks," I found myself reading this line over and over again: "Getting found almost always means being lost for a while." In "Dad," this one really hit home: "Addicts and alcoholics will tell you that their recovery began when they woke up in pitiful and degraded enough shape to take Step Zero, which is: 'This s*** has got to stop.'"
Of all the amazing words in "Small Victories," though, I think this passage from "Mom--Part One: Noraht" might be my favorite: "Grace means suddenly you're in a different universe from the one where you were stuck, and there was absolutely no way for you to get there on your own. When it happens--when you stop hating--you really have to pinch yourself."
In "Market Street," Anne describes how she feels after praying: "I don't feel so alone. I feel better." That's exactly how I feel after reading an Anne Lamott book. And "Small Victories" is no exception. Thank you, Anne Lamott. Your words heal me and your books are like little treasures. "Small Victories" is no exception. It's a little first-aid kit between two covers.
"Right this minute, we understand that this is all there is, so let's really be together." --Anne Lamott
So I loved her collection of essays, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. Lamott just has a way of finding truth — and humor — in otherwise bland everyday moments like skiing poorly and airplane turbulence. Reading her work is like sipping tea; I joyfully savor it.
My favorite pieces in the book were “Forgiven,” about her Enemy Lite, a seemingly perfect parent of another child in her son’s first grade class, and “Dad” which moved me to tears when she wrote about reading her father’s journal decades after his death. I also enjoyed “Matches,” about online dating (most of the time, I feel Lamott is my simpatico, but when she wrote that sex “is not on the women’s bucket lists. I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” I literally said out loud, “Ah, no. You are not speaking for all women”).
One other small niggle: She regularly railed against President George W. Bush (apparently a number of the essays were written during his administration). I don’t particularly like him either, but her strongly negative feelings sometimes got in the way of her point. I began to wonder if the title of the book was a statement about the 2000 election. I imagine some readers might not be able to get past her politics.
Still, if you’re looking for a dose of hope, joy and grace served up with a dash of humor and honesty, you might like Small Victories.