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SOMEHOW by Anne Lamott


Thoughts on Love

by Anne Lamott

Pub Date: April 9th, 2024
ISBN: 9780593714416
Publisher: Riverhead

The bestselling author follows the template of the most recent half-dozen of her loosely connected essay collections, this time focused on love.

“What are we even talking about when we talk about love? What is it?” So asks Lamott on the first page of her latest book, and she goes on to answer the question in a similar manner to her many previous books: Love is Jesus, but also each other, and also, sometimes, chocolate. In these varying anecdotes, the author plumbs familiar ground, including family and her church community, the adorable malaprop-prone kids in her Sunday school class, and her unhoused neighbors near her Bay Area home. Newer topics include her still-recent marriage (her first, in her mid-60s) to the “lovely, steady” Neal and the upheaval caused by her son Sam’s drug addiction and her grandson’s arrival. With age, Lamott’s essays have become less acerbic and more attuned to the natural world; the scent of eucalyptus comes up often, as do the flowers and foliage, the fog and the forests of Northern California. In this book, she focuses less on vengeful thinking for comic effect and more on the joys of smelling the roses. In one essay, she recounts how she taught a reluctant young Cuban woman to swim; in another, she describes how she held a sharpened pencil to her son’s neck and told him not to come home until he was clean. (A month later, he did.) As always, a strong vein of spirituality runs throughout, with Lamott’s characteristic descriptions of an all-loving God who is often flummoxed and saddened by humanity, but hopeful anyway. This all comes across as much less twee than it might be, and the stories make up in warmth what they lack in novelty.

Lamott newbies will find this a kind view of loving oneself and others despite our collective imperfections.