Anne Lamott’s News Book Uplifts With Humor and Optimism

In Almost Everything: Notes on Hope, the author doesn’t sugarcoat reality but does manage to find the silver lining.


Lamott finds the silver linings.

Photo by Waldemar Zboralski

Arriving as a perfect antidote to November’s midterm elections and lingering malaise following Brett Kavanaugh’s awful-on-all-fronts Supreme Court nominee hearings, Anne Lamott’s Almost Everything: Notes on Hope is quietly uplifting.

Never sugarcoating, but always finding self-deprecating humor and a silver lining—admittedly, a smudged one—the Marin County New York Times bestselling author offers 12 essays and a “coda” that is simply authored and titled, Hope. In each essay, Lamott’s signature reverence for language and innate humanity shines forth; displaying hardwired joy and curiosity she suggests in “Humans 101,” is universal.

Lamott is the author of novels, nonfiction books, and numerous essays on Jesus and faith, writing, motherhood, alcoholism, death, politics, families, and more. She was awarded a 1985 Guggenheim Fellowship and inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2010.

Of course, Lamott’s hopefulness isn’t easy to achieve or to maintain, and she wastes no time making that fact plain. “Peace of mind is an inside job,” she writes. It’s a warning and reminder that constant retraining is necessary to quell negative voices or to put the brakes on external quests and sources for internal happiness. After a young girl declares to Lamott, “I has value,” she wishes the three words were tattooed on her own arm as a permanent, ever-present manifesto.

One essay, “Writing,” begins with a declaration: “So, writing. What a bitch.” But moving swiftly to the importance of stories, Lamott commands, “Tell it.” And adds, for emphasis, “Stories goose us in a good way.” Through writing, people lighten up, escape harsh realities, recognize in life and in themselves both sweetness and absurdity, forgive foul-mouthed leaders or hard-to-love family members. “Writing breaks the trance of our belief that the world is going to hell in a hand basket,” she writes.

In other words, with books and stories and writers and readers with enough belief that “I has value,” there is hope available to all.

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott (Riverhead Books, October 2018, 206 pp., $20)

This report was originally published in our sister publication, the East Bay Monthly.

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