Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott
I was slightly disappointed in this book, mostly because a lot of people said it was the greatest ever and it didn’t quite live up to that hype for me. I’ve blogged before about Lamott’s writing–this book is what gives her authority to write an essay denouncing Mother’s Day–and she’s one of those writers whose fans are super loyal and recommend her to everyone they know. (Bird by Bird is on my list too, thanks to her fans.)The best thing about the book were some rather beautiful sentences describing her son’s baby body and behaviors.
Lamott is a single parent, and her struggles make me feel grateful that I’m not. She frets and worries about her son’s lack of male role models, until she gets a few uncles and friends to fill that role for him. Generally, her story provides a great example of how people can gather a community around themselves to create that village that we always hear is necessary for raising a child. It’s really nice to see somebody making the best of a hard situation like that.
The last third of the book became rather sad as Lamott’s friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The contrast between her illness and Sam’s growth made Lamott understandably emotional, and she captured that sorrow and joy as well as anyone can.
One thing I found annoying was Lamott’s little rants against Republicans and men who don’t perform oral sex. I certainly understand her objections, and the passages were meant to be funny, but I found them more off-putting, not to mention irrelevant. This kind of rhetoric is behind the divisions in our country and in our relationships. My friend Jamie did a great job explaining what the problem is here.