Anne Lamott has the rare ability to approach subjects devalued by empty platitudes and false sentiment faith, grief, the writing process in a considered yet unsentimental manner. Shes a hero among fellow writers thanks to her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, which popularized embracing the "shitty first draft." In recent years, the book has gained popularity among bloggers who grind through multiple shitty first drafts every day. Yet she's far more than the patron saint of beleaguered authors and bloggers: Her writing on faith and the human experience is nuanced, thoughtful, and generous, a strong reminder to us heathens that not every believer is a nut job with a gun rack and a creative take on the Constitution. Her latest novel, Imperfect Birds, investigates the dueling human impulses for connection and self-destruction, and the ways they enable and confound one another. The story of high school senior Rosie Ferguson, a sex and drug addict who nonetheless pulls straight As, Imperfect Birds examines how Rosie's dysfunctional home life and her own addictions serve as the sole shared thread among the fractured family. A follow-up to Lamott's earlier novels Rosie and Crooked Little Heart, it's a stark look at how we stumble for redemption despite our own worst impulses, told with rare grace and empathy.
Mon., Nov. 29, 7 p.m., 2010