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Anne Lamott: Life as a Black-Belt Codependent

The best-selling author of Bird by Bird and Operating Instructions reflects on her latest book, Help, Thanks, Wow, and the challenge of accepting love in a culture of arm’s-length perfection.

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Photo by Sam Lamott

I met Anne Lamott in her cozy Marin County, California, home, where we talked about her latest book, Help, Thanks, Wow, over the objections of her two exuberant dogs.In person, as in her writing, she is an astute observer of her inner life, wielding both humor and lightness with Jedi-like precision. Her best-selling nonfiction books have chronicled many of her life passages—from single motherhood in Operating Instructions to writer and daughter in Bird by Bird to defining her faith in Traveling Mercies.It is easy to understand why readers respond to Lamott’s books with gratitude and relief. Through the baring of her own vulnerabilities, she reassures us that the chorus in our heads—the complainer, the high critic, the insecure woman, even the hater—is a normal part of being human.In Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers she offers us a “sliver of light,” a gentle, beseeching invitation to turn inward and upward.Why a book on prayer?The experience reminded me a little of [Bird by Bird], where I’d been talking about writing for so long, and the publishers wanted the book so quickly, that I relied …

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