Nearly 20 years ago, best-selling author Anne Lamott released Operating Instructions, a memoir of her son’s first year of life and her first year as a single mother. For her latest book, Some Assembly Required, she teamed up with her son, Sam, to write about the challenges and pleasures of raising her grandson.
WW: What has been the most astonishing thing about watching your son, Sam, become a father?
Anne Lamott: He was so young, and he was not that long ago—10 years ago—a kid who would pick up branches and smash and bash and poke. And now he’s been changing diapers for 2½ years. It’s all kind of miraculous. To have somebody who was a teenager when he became a father and has had to grow so quickly in so many ways, and has had to learn to sacrifice in so many ways.
Reading your memoirs, it’s clear your faith and church community have been an important sustaining force in your life. How do you find that more secular readers respond to these elements?
Well, people don’t come to my readings or my books if they have a total aversion to someone talking about God. It’s the same way that I’m extremely political, extremely progressive. Probably if I weren’t, I might have a bigger audience. But people know. This is my 13th book. People know if they have an aversion to God or left-hand politics, I’m going to probably be annoying.
One of your biggest struggles during Jax’s first year was letting go of the need to control everything and giving Sam and his girlfriend, Amy, the space to be the parents. Have you heard from many new parents thanking you for being so candid about this?
I never really write about stuff unless I’m pretty sure it’s universal. If I thought I were the only person…to feel this need to control and glom on and try to manage, then I would have never written about it. I’ve talked to so many women; I know it just comes with the territory.
As mother and grandmother, what do you think of all this politicized conversation around women’s reproductive rights?
I’m passionately pro-choice. I’m serious and just disgusted and kind of stunned that we’re having these conversations in 2012. I’m really…trying to get the younger women to understand that this is the most significant fight they could fight. And I’m trying to convince the middle-aged and older women to find some younger women to come stand with us at our rallies and marches.
How old is your grandson, Jax, now? What’s your favorite book to read him?
He’s 2½. We are very heavily into Dr. Seuss, specifically Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat.
GO: Anne Lamott will speak at the Bagdad Theater, 3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd., on Friday, March 30. 7 pm. Tickets are $26.95 and include a copy of Some Assembly Required.