Monday, July 30, 2007

The Coolest Introverts in Literature

Anne Lamott comes sliding in as Number Two on our List of The Coolest Introverts in Literature. Okay, fine, I admit it-- we started this list as The Coolest Introverts in Children's Literature with Cynthia Rylant as Number One. But we can't have a list without Anne Lamott on it. Seriously, man.

So, just this once, we're sneaking an adult author in on you. But the woman has a very active and articulate inner child, and gets kids like not many humans do. She's earned the spot in my book. I can just imagine her relief that she made the cut here-- phew! It was a close call, Anne, but you're IN. (If you email me at Yes, Mary I'm dying to have lunch with you! Love, Anne --it's on me! Dessert, too.)

Anne Lamott, familiar to many of you, is a hysterical, successful, dreadlock-riddled, prolific, irreverant, born-again Christian, New York Times best-selling author with a potty mouth and the spiritual consciousness of a modern saint. She is concurrently sarcastic, humble, deeply grateful, biting woman that puts her feet where her mouth takes her. She lives the talk. My favorite kind of religious person.

I have to believe that Anne Lamott is on God's Personal List of People that I'm Crazy About. She is painfully human and fully awake.

I'm taking liberties here to type her as an introvert, but I'll bet a month of Sunday collection money on it. Her writing speaks to the ever-so- classic I'd Rather Have My Uvula Pierced than Attend a Party Syndrome that so many of us have.

She is famous and beloved for her 1994 Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life described in the LA Times as "A warm, generous and hilarious guide through the writer's world and its treacherous swamps." If you've not read this and want to, and are tied up in in traction or climbing Mt. Everest this summer and can't get it, email me and I'll send you my copy today. Swear. Writers-must-read-this-book.

She has written six novels including, Hard Laughter, Rosie, Joe Jones, All New People, and Crooked Little Heart (the sequel to Rosie), and four best-selling books of non-fiction, Operating Instructions, Bird by Bird, Traveling Mercies, and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. Anne has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has taught at U.C. Davis, as well as at writing conferences across the country. For a number of years, she contributed to, an independent on-line magazine, and you can still catch her archived essays there. Definitely worth the trip.

In fact, though I've bought and read most all of her books, fiction and non-fiction, I only have Bird by Bird left on hand. It is a personal policy of mine that any Anne Lamott book in my posession must be passed on. They are too rich and important to sit on my shelf. They belong out in the world being read.

As does this passage from her book on writing:

"There are moments when I am writing when I think that if other people knew how I felt right now, they'd burn me at the stake for feeling so good, so full, so much intense pleasure. I pay through the nose for these moments, of course, with lots of torture and self-loathing and tedium, but when I am done for the day, I have something to show for it. When the ancient Egytptians finished building the pyraminds, they had built the pyramids. Perhaps they are good role models: they thought they were working for God, so they worked with a sense of concentration and religious awe. (Also, my friend Carpenter tells me, they drank all day and took time off every few hours to oil each other. I belive that all my other writer friends do this, too, but they won't let me in on it." --Anne Lamott


jama said...

You are absolutely right, Mary. Every writer should read Anne Lamott -- not just Bird by Bird, but all her other books too. I still marvel at her ability to turn herself inside out to bare her heart and soul. I can only describe it as beautiful pain. What an inspiration she is!

Mary Hershey said...

Hi, Jama!

Glad you agree-- have you heard her lecture before? She's even better in person. I'm usually close to bursting all my innner organs from laughing so hard. And, then, in the next moment, stunned into silence by the depth of her humanity.


Robin L said...

So if she does contact you for lunch, you will be taking your blogging partner, right??

Anonymous said...

Oui! But, of course! I do hope she likes Taco Bell--


jama said...

Sorry to say I've never heard her lecture in person. Would love to, though. Maybe you could invite her to lecture at a Taco Bell in Virginia, Mary! :)

Anonymous said...

I wish I could hear her lecture, but California is too far away and she never comes to Utah. I tried writing fan letters, but I believe Ms. Lamott is not into answering them at this time. I don't take it personally, no mam. From one introvert to another, I understand that too much contact with people is overwhelming. And there is no reason for her to make an exception for this college woman, so thats all good. I doubt she eats Toco Bell, but Ms Anne, if you're ever in the mood for some good sushi, I'm your girl!

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