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Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 29, 2013
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In her latest whirling, fuming, blunt, wise, and funny book of homilies, following the best-selling Help, Thanks, Wow (2012), Lamott combines exasperation and sorrow over perpetual and universal suffering with a stubborn belief in the possibility of meaning, solace, and mending. She asks how we can even begin to seek coherence when children are massacred in their schools and polar bears are “floating out to sea on scraps of ice.” All we can do is what needs to be done. We clean up oil spills, rebuild after catastrophes, care for the sick, serve food, and wash floors. Lamott connects the epic to the ordinary and observes, “We live stitch by stitch, when we’re lucky.” As she tells charmingly self-mocking yet laser-sharp stories from her patchwork life of spiritual inquiry—one about a blouse she inherited from a friend who died too young, another about a creatively repaired curtain—sewing and darning become metaphors for accepting life’s cycles of joy and loss, and for taking care of each other and the world. Lamott’s larky yet shrewd needle-and-thread spirituality is realistic and renewing. --Donna Seaman
“Lamott’s pithiest, most insightful book yet, Stitches offers plenty of her characteristic witty wisdom…this slim, readable volume [is] a lens on life, widening and narrowing, encouraging each reader to reflect on what it is, after all, that really matters.”
“Laced with stories, full of faith…a hopeful [book].”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The wickedly witty and very funny Lamott…makes you laugh at the same time she makes you think. This collection of moments, memories and spiritual insights is one of her best.”
“Like a warming, hearty sip of soup after a day out in the cold or a candid letter from a friend.”
—New York Daily News
“[Stitches] brings the beloved author's trademark compassion, wisdom and tart wit to the question of how to deal with suffering and loss, both public and personal.”
—Tampa Bay Times
“Whirling, fuming, blunt, wise, and funny…Lamott’s larky yet shrewd needle-and-thread spirituality is realistic and renewing.”
“Vintage Lamott: funny, brilliantly self-deprecating, and insightful.”
“Anne’s thoughts on human loss and brokenness are served with slices of quirky humor, wisdom and spiritual insight that pulls readers in and won’t let them go.”
Praise for Help, Thanks, Wow
“Filled with Lamott’s unique brand of humor, wisdom, and profound spiritual insight . . . She 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
“Prayer is a topic that can quickly turn treacly, but the reader needn’t fear that in Lamott’s irreverent hands.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Practical and poetic advice on prayer.”
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Top Customer Reviews
In "Stitches," Lamott explores how we can piece our lives back together and keep going when life hands us--both as individuals and society--difficult or tragic circumstances. "You have to keep taking the next necessary stitch, and the next one, and the next. Without stitches, you just have rags. And we are not rags," Lamott writes."We live stitch by stitch, when we're lucky. If you fixate on the whole shebang, you miss the stitching."
As is her trademark, Lamott's outlook on life ("Beauty is a miracle of things going together imperfectly") and her sense of humor ("I love ritual and repetition. Without them I would be a balloon with a slow leak) are incredibly refreshing in "Stitches." Her familiar themes of hope, faith, grace, and spirituality run throughout the book, and I love that.
"Help, Thanks, Wow" helped get me through a difficult time in my life (my son's addiction). As "Stitches" arrives, I am going through another challenge involving the loss of my job and a possible career change. I think maybe Anne Lamott knows when I need a new book to help guide me through life. I am so happy "Stitches" has come when it has. This quote in particular resonated with me: "This is who I want to be in the world. This is who I think we are supposed to be, people who help call forth human beings from deep inside hopelessness."
I hope I can be that person. Thank you again, Anne Lamott. Your books are my owner's manuals for life.
Loss forever changes who we are as individuals. It takes a while, sometimes a lifetime to accept and adapt to the new normal that is thrust our way. What I liked best about Stitches is Lamott’s notion that no matter how shredded a life becomes from the experience of devastating loss there is always opportunity to stitch a life back together and make something with beauty and purpose. It is in those moments of stitching life back together that we realize life has begun anew as a person forever different, yet our difference is honored and sacred.
Stitches is a recommended supportive reading for adults who are experiencing deep significant loss.
Lamott doesn't gloss over hard truths. She acknowledges that life can sometimes be so painful that it seems unbearable. It can be incredibly difficult to search for even a tiny shred of meaning in the midst of emotional and physical chaos. I admire such honesty, the kind that pulls no punches but also sheds light on ways to survive even the hardest times, finding ways back to joy.
I also savored the details about how she - and some of those she knew- struggled to hold the "fabric" of their lives together amid great challenges. Sometimes comfort comes from special possessions. Lamott clings to the shirt of a beloved friend who died, even as it becomes worn and threadbare, afraid that losing the shirt will threaten her memories of their friendship. A friend helps her find an unorthodox way to salvage cherished curtains torn by her dog, leading to new insights about the beauty of imperfection, both in the patched curtains and in life.
I was deeply moved by her description of a couple, married for forty years, being torn apart "like a strip of old cloth" in the wake of the husband's faltering mind. Lamott doesn't shy away from the pain of such moments but also shares moments of hope, comfort, and humor. Her previous book focused primarily on prayer, faith, and gratitude. This time around she has written one which is "intended to be useful on the bad days." For me, it is that and more, with a depth and power that has me convinced I'll be revisiting this one for years to come.