Read “Blue Shoe” by Anne Lamott

This is about the 10th book I’ve read this year. Not bad, except that I made a New Year’s resolution to read 25 new books in 2009. I guess between moving across country, starting a new job, having another kid, and taking time to make a bunch of excuses, I’ll probably only get about halfway to my goal.

Still with all of my shortcomings, I still know that I am lovable and worthy, and that was one of the lessons that the main character in “Blue Shoe,” Mattie, came to learn.

This is the only novel I’ve read this year so far. Most of my reading is Christian/New Age/Self-Help type of stuff. It was like a vacation to step into this fictional world that is so much like our own.

I really love Anne Lamott’s writing, mostly because of her knack for dealing with the dark aspects of human nature with humor.

Mattie, the main character, is divorced, a mother of 2, all but struggling financially, has issues with her mother, and most interestingly of all, has a strong desire to be a good Christian. That may not sound like the most interesting aspect of her struggle, but it is, because she fails so miserably at it so often, just like the rest of us.

She has a healthy prayer life, yet fantasizes about poisoning her children. She knows her ex-husband is a lowdown dog, yet sleeps with him regularly even after he remarries.

Also like many of us, she is being eaten up by family secrets that she’s scared to share. She feels like she’s the only one with dysfunction; the only one who prays without seeing immediate results; the only one who feels desperate and dirty as a result of sharing a house with children.

In addition to several lines that made me laugh out loud, the novel is full of wisdom (“expectations are premeditated resentments”), and unapologetic imagery (“she looked almost to the ceiling of the church, where the notes hung above the singers like moths.”) Soaking this stuff up reminded me that reading good literature makes you a better writer, too.

The more I think about the lessons of the novel, the less bad I feel about about not reading 25 books in 2009. I’m grateful for the ones I have read, and for a few more tomorrows to read some more.


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