Anne Lamott offers sneak peek into forthcoming book

Print More
Image credit: Sam Lamott / Courtesy: Anne Lamott

Image credit: Sam Lamott / Courtesy: Anne Lamott

The bestselling author's newest book has been kept under wraps, but here is a first look into her next spiritual reflection.

The contents the bestselling author’s next book has been kept under wraps, but she says half of it is about forgiveness and some of it may make “fundamentalists apoplectic.” – Photo credit: Sam Lamott / Courtesy of Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott has often been called the “People’s Author” because of the homespun honesty dripping from the pages of her books. Recently, the perennial bestseller began experimenting with short-form spiritual reflections with the release of Help, Thanks, Wow in 2012 and Stitches in 2013. Anne’s experiment will become a trilogy on November 10 with the release of Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of GraceThe New York Times once declared, “a minute with Anne Lamott is like a week with anyone else,” and these bite-sized books contain at least a week’s worth of wisdom each.

The contents of the Small Victories have been kept under wraps by the publisher–there’s not even a “Look Inside” feature available on Amazon–so this curious journalist began to dig around for information. I decided to go straight to the source herself, and Anne was gracious enough to answer a few questions and offer us a sneak peek.

RNS: A TV preacher might promise tips for “spiritual breakthroughs” or big moments of transformation. Instead you focus on “small victories.” Why do you think people want or need something small?

AL: [tweetable]Small is how blessings, healing, progress and increase occur.[/tweetable] Not on the fantasy, magic wand realm of televangelists. In my experience, all you ever need is a little bit of this or that—a spritz of spiritual WD-40, five minutes of someone’s time—for there to be a significant shift in perception. Which is what most miracles look like.

Image courtesy of Riverhead Books

Image courtesy of Riverhead Books

RNS: Part of achieving small victories involves forgiveness, which you call “the hardest work we do.” Why is forgiveness so darn difficult? 

AL: Half of Small Victories is about forgiveness, so it’s hard to answer in a line or two. [tweetable]Forgiveness is difficult–it just is![/tweetable] It’s a natural response to avoid more pain, rather than confronting it, breathing right into it, which is how forgiveness takes place. For you to forgive something awful I did to you means that you have to re-experience the pain, in your heart and gut. That’s so brave. When we are taught to move on with our lives “forgive and forget” is a very nice thought but, in my experience, it does not lead to deep healing.

RNS: What do you say to readers who feel they’ve been wronged so badly they can’t or won’t offer forgiveness?

AL: I’d say that I sure understand. But the willingness to change in any real way usually comes from the pain of not forgiving. You have to ask yourself, “Would I rather be right or happy?” [tweetable]Life is incredibly short, and a lack of forgiveness makes us toxic.[/tweetable] So we lurch along for awhile in this toxic state, until we are desperate for restoration and mental health and a new Life.

RNS: You’re talking about small victories but some people would say their lives feel mostly made up of defeats. Any encouragement for the serial failure?

AL: I don’t know people who would say that, as most of the people I know are people who’ve recovered from alcoholism or eating disorders. So they know they’ve had a victory.

RNS: You draw lessons about this from an experience where you joined as a grandmother. Why did you do that and what did you learn?

AL: It took an essay to capture all that, but the main thing is simple: I learned how to date. I learned how to meet men, have a cup of coffee, plan to meet again, or not, deal with my feelings of attraction, aversion, rejection, excitement—the whole enchilada.

RNS: You talk about receiving the “Ham of God.” Explain. 

AL: This is my favorite essay in the whole book, and I don’t want to wreck the story for anyone!

RNS: You seem to have a knack for making conservative Christians uncomfortable. Which ideas in this book do you expect will make more conservative readers squirm in their seats?

AL: There are a couple of old pieces about the horrible pain of watching Bush and Cheney lead this country into an immoral war, based totally on lies and fear-mongering, that will take this country and world decades to bounce back from. Also, I express a belief that God adores and is there for each and every one of us, whether we are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, straight, gay—and this tends to make fundamentalists apoplectic. Oh well.

  • Pingback: Anne Lamott Offers Sneak Peek into Forthcoming Book - Jonathan Merritt()

  • Jerry

    ” There are a couple of old pieces about the horrible pain of watching Bush and Cheney lead this country into an immoral war, based totally on lies and fear-mongering, that will take this country and world decades to bounce back from”
    The question comes to mind, will this country EVER bounce back from the Obama debacle. Both Bush Sr and Jr were terrible but look like a Abe Lincoln beside Obama. The idea the author addresses this issue nixes the book for me.

  • The Great God Pan

    “The New York Times once declared, ‘a minute with Anne Lamott is like a week with anyone else,'”

    Are you sure that was intended as a compliment?

  • What is your point Jerry ?
    I don’t think you have a clue.

  • Ha.

    Yes, I think so. Here is the context of the quote:

    “A minute with Anne Lamott is like a week with anyone else. On the telephone, Ms. Lamott, a writer who has perfected the art of saying the unsayable, is even more intense than she is in print.”

  • Byron


    don’t confuse faith with politics.

  • Byron

    Wile living in the Bay Area, I had a few encounters with Anne. I have several friends who know her well.

    My limited experience of her is one who is real, authentic, deeply spiritual, intelligent and refreshing.

    Actually Id’ do the reverse, I trade a week with her for five minutes on the phone with most Christians I know.

  • Love this- thanks for the sneak preview- can’t wait. The small blessings and the forgiveness needed, timeless messages said in the unique way only Anne Lamott can.

  • Perhaps his point is that the woman talks like a witless political sectary and likely not a fountainhead of wisdom about much (except in the stopped clock sort of way).

  • Your interviews stink. You might ask the respondent a minimally challenging question every once in a while.

  • Who are you admonishing? Annie Lamott or someone with the temerity to respond to her?

  • Junia

    Jerry, it’s a good thing you don’t have to waste your beautiful mind on a book that might challenge your preconceptions. And I don’t for a minute believe you think Bush I and II were terrible.

  • Amanda Peterman

    Great questions for Anne, Jonathan! She is her typical passionate, provocative and fun self!

  • Jerry

    Why am I not surprised you would call someone you do not know a liar. The fact is I honestly believe people were duped by both Bush Sr & Jr. I look back on the Clinton era, and while he was morally bankrupt he did do a great job as POTUS as far as his foreign & domestic policy as well as the economy because he moved back to the center and was quite good for the country unlike most liberal baby killing liberals. Reagan was the last great POTUS though not perfect as no one will ever be. Your sarcasm screams save the whales ignore the rights of the unborn. I bet your a real sweetie. By the way I am neither have no use for either of the two political parties as both are so corrupt they will never be able to lead us back to sanity. Now you have plenty of ammo to pop off again. By the way at 75 all my preconceptions have proven false.

  • Charlie

    He did not kill or capture Osama bin Laden causing the attack on the World Trade Center and the resulting wars.

    “I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have had to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him.

    “And so I didn’t do it.”

    Hours after Clinton spoke, a hijacked Boeing 767 slammed into the north tower of New York City’s World Trade Center. A second plane struck the south tower 18 minutes later. Other planes crashed in Washington, D.C., and western Pennsylvania. The attacks, organized by bin Laden, killed more than 3,000 people.

  • Kelly Duncan

    Ecclesiastes says…. There is a time for EVERYTHING, and a season for every activity under the heavens.(3:1) There is a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build (3:3); a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing (3:5); a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. (3:7, 3:8) Implicitly, there is a time to forgive, and a time not to. Not everyone who decides not to forgive ruminates and holds a grudge and becomes “toxic” as Lamott says.

  • Nancy

    Spoken like a true conservative that seems to need to divert attention away and place blame on something/one who doesn’t share their world view….Really the ones that need to read the book!

  • Nancy

    Amen to “most Christians I know”!