Monday, October 28, 2013

Book Review - Help, Thanks, Wow, Anne Lamott

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers


Anne Lamott

Category: Nonfiction: Faith

Synopsis: Lamott discusses her three go-to prayers.

Date finished: 27 September 2013

Rating: ***½

God bless Anne Lamott. I love her dearly. Even when I disagree with her. And even when she spews venomous hatred at the Bush administration and anyone else right of center (or perhaps, right of far left).

A personal story. I’ve spent time with Anne Lamott. I introduced her at a reading she did as a part of my college’s Forum and Artist Series in the spring of 1998. Her Traveling Mercies was about to be released. We stood backstage, waiting for our cue, and she was infinitely more nervous than I was. She showed me pictures of her son, Sam (who is now a father), and gave me a mint. (I still have the wrapper.) She sat down and signed each and every book I brought with me, and she obligingly inscribed my program from that night, “Bird by Bird…Anne Lamott.” A year or so later I went to a reading she gave in the Twin Cities area, and she remembered me and my name. This graciousness is how authors create life-long fans. Because I’ve since read every (non-fiction) book she’s released—including those full of aforementioned venomous spews.

So, I feel like Anne and I have some history. I’ve read about her faith evolving over the years. And mine has evolved in another direction.

This book is full of Anne’s sense of humor and neurosis. She passes on wisdom and wisecracks from her friends of various faith backgrounds. It’s a short book that focuses on petitionary prayer (Help), prayer of thanksgiving (Thanks), and prayers of awe (Wow), plus thoughts on Amen.

Is it as good as her full-length books on faith? In my opinion, no. There was something missing here.

Did I agree with what she posited about prayer? Not always, but my faith is not mainstream.

What I know is this: we pray from where we are. Anne’s treatise is not my treatise. And that’s fine. You take what you can from a book like this. And I thank Anne for writing it.

Would you recommend this to a friend?
Might be a nice gift book for a struggling friend.

You might also enjoy:
Any of Lamott’s other books on faith:
Traveling Mercies
Plan B
Grace (Eventually)

and the companion book to this one (out Oct. 29):

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