Operating Instructions

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I got to page 133 of today's book when it started to feel very familiar and then I was seized with panic because I became convinced that I had already read this book for the blog. This led to me running to the computer to check while yelling Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap over and over again (okay, so that was actually the clean version of what I was saying, but you get the picture.) I discovered, to my relief, that I haven't read this book yet. The reason why it felt so familiar was because I have already read another book by this author for the blog, and the other book contains on excerpt from this book. Whew, crisis averted. But how sad is it that I can no longer keep track of the books that I have read. Which leads me to my second panic-filled moment of the day which involves me sitting around imagining awful scenarios in which people come up to me in public and ask about one of my blog entries and I have no memory of the entry or the book. I realize as I'm typing this that my panic is a tad bit on the arrogant side since I'm pretty sure other people don't give my blog that much thought. Still, it's really depressing to know that by the end of this year I will have read 365 books and remembered nothing from any of them. It's all become a huge blur.

And now on to talking about today's book which I will have completely forgotten about by tomorrow:

Today's book, "It seems no mother of a newborn has ever been more hilarious, more honest, or more touching than Anne Lamott in Operating Instructions. A single parent whose baby's father is out of the picture, Lamott struggles not only to support her little family by her wits and her writing, but to stay sober at the same time."

I'm sure this won't shock you at all dear readers, but today's book was not as funny as the descriptions claims it was. It was actually more of a mix of slightly amusing moments and really sad moments. But I didn't mind the lack of humor because, unlike some of the books I've read in this past that weren't funny despite the claim on the back of the book, the author doesn't seem to be desperately trying to write a funny book. The humor seems to arise naturally from the situations she's describing - and she never resorts to the "look how bratty my kid is" bit to get laughs the way a lot of books about parenthood do.

The rest of the description is pretty accurate, the book is very honest, to the point where those who only want to hear sugar-coated myths about how having a baby is 24/7 bliss will probably hate this book and give it nasty reviews on amazon.com. I've really got to stop wasting so much time reading the customer reviews on that site, but I find it so entertaining to see how people can get worked up to the point of rage just because a book has an opinion in it that they don't happen to agree with.

And speaking of opinions you don't agree with, if you're a Republican you might not like this book. Lamott can't stand Republicans, and mentions it several times in the book. She doesn't harp on it constantly throughout the book to the point where I want to yell at the book We get it, you can stop repeating yourself - but it is mentioned about 5 or 6 times. If you're thin skinned about that sort of thing, then you might want to steer clear of this book. And if you enjoy mocking Republicans then you'll probably enjoy her comments a great deal.

Favorite passages from the book:

  • ". . . worse than just about anything else is the agonizing issue of how on earth anyone can bring a child into this world knowing full well that he or she is eventually going to have to go through the seventh and eighth grades. The seventh and eight grades were for me, and for every single good and interesting person I've ever known, what the writers of the Bible meant when they used the words hell and the pit." (Preach it sister. I think hell on earth would be a pretty good description of junior high. I can't even think back to junior high without shuddering; that stupid dress code where skirts had to be as long as a person's arms, which is totally unfair because I have really long arms; that really bad haircut that was supposed to be like the Rachel haircut but instead ended up having about 20 layers too many; having to spend three months in Home EC sewing a bag that fell apart the minute I put books in it; and then of course there's the never-ending fun of going to a school where the teachers have come in contact with so many juvenile delinquents that they start treating everyone like criminals.)

  • "It feels like I'm babysitting in the Twilight Zone. I keep waiting for the parents to show up because we are out of chips and Diet Cokes." (Okay, so the only reason why I like that passage is because it reminds me of two of my favorite things: Disney World and Hot Pockets, which I still maintain is the worlds most perfect food. . . next to those mint Oreos that are dipped in chocolate. Well the Disney World thing is obvious: Twilight Zone . . . Tower of Terror . . . Disney World - it's not exactly a huge leap. And then there's Hot Pockets, which were my food of choice when I was in high school and I would babysit for the neighbors kids. That was the easiest job I've ever had, the kids were old enough to practically take care of themselves, and there was a never ending supply of Hot Pockets and M&M cookies. To this day, every time I drive past that house I have a Homer Simpson moment and start thinking Mmm, Hot Pocket. . . M&M cookies. . . getting paid to do nothing. That of course was back in my pre-allergy days when I could still eat Hot Pockets and M&M cookies and Oreos. But I don't mind not being able to have that stuff anymore, who on earth would want Hot Pockets and cookies when I could have an orange and some gum instead.)

Wow, it's a really good thing that I take notes while I'm reading or I wouldn't have been able to write this blog entry since I've already forgotten approximately one-third of what I just read. So if you have any questions about the book ask me really quickly because by tomorrow I will have forgotten the other two-thirds.