Being a grandparent is harder than it looks.
Such is Lamott’s (Imperfect Birds, 2010, etc.) message in this angst-ridden, occasionally neurotic diary of her grandson’s first year. After gaining a large audience for Operating Instructions (1993), which chronicled her son Sam’s first year of life, the author sets out to do the same after Sam became a father at age 19. Sam and erstwhile girlfriend Amy are parents to a healthy baby boy named Jax. In nearly daily entries, Lamott shares details of her life beginning with Jax’s first full day after birth. Filled with a variety of characters—Sam, the young father in over his head; Amy, the beautiful mother whose strength Lamott seems to envy; Jax, the almost-perfect baby; various friends and family—the book is mostly about the author and her seething river of insecurities and anxieties. At nearly every turn, Lamott comes up with some new thing to worry about, a new facet of herself to loathe or a new characteristic of those close to her to deride and belittle. She struggles constantly with boundaries as a grandmother, and she bemoans her lack of control over situations. Another source of near-constant anxiety is the prospect of Amy moving away with Jax. Other fears are less grounded in reality: “I have these morbid, terrifying fantasies—but I had the same ones before Jax was born, that the baby would die and Sam would commit suicide.” Eventually readers will grow tired of the author’s angst, self-doubt and general negativity.
A pale companion piece to Operating Instructions.