Anne Lamott Has Written Classics. This Is Not One of Them.

SOMEHOW: Thoughts on Love, by Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is a national treasure who, at age 70, is putting out not books but throw pillows with embroidered mottoes and little tassels. A lot of people find comfort in them and will curl right up with her latest, “Somehow,” a collection of inspirational anecdotes and meditations. Yours truly wants them off the bed.

It wasn’t always like this. In a world when many books are regrettably D.O.A., Lamott published two works of nonfiction in the space of two years that were C.O.A.: classics on arrival.

“Operating Instructions” (1993) was a scatologically exact account of raising her baby, Sam, minus a father in the picture, that presaged a brood of parenting memoirs, including Rachel Cusk’s “A Life’s Work.”

And countless writers have clutched “Bird by Bird” (1994), a guide to conquering the terror of the blank page during their dark nights of the soul. (Darker, so much darker, since the internet made words cheap.)

My introduction to Lamott was reviewing “Crooked Little Heart” (1997), about an adolescent girl named Rosie on the tennis circuit, for a different publication. I disagreed completely with the esteemed Benjamin Cheever’s complaint in The New York Times that nothing really happened in it. If you had any memory of being an adolescent girl, then that nothingness, which included a creepy spectator named Luther and a teen pregnancy, was everything.

Finding out “Crooked Little Heart” was a sequel to “Rosie” (1983), wherein the protagonist’s mother is widowed young and reckons with her alcoholism, was like walking through the wardrobe in “The Chronicles of Narnia” into a fictional world whose boundaries magically expand. A comparison more fitting when you realize that Lamott’s work, like C.S. Lewis’s, has a strong Christian subtext — when it’s not beckoning you right into the next pew.

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