Anne Lamott’s wit and wisdom on display at Carpenter Center, Saturday

“I try to write the books I would love to come upon, that are honest, concerned with real lives, human hearts, spiritual transformation, families, secrets, wonder, craziness—and that can make me laugh. When I am reading a book like this, I feel rich and profoundly relieved to be in the presence of someone who will share the truth with me, and throw the lights on a little, and I try to write these kinds of books. Books, for me, are medicine.”

That’s Anne Lamott, explaining why she writes. We figured it was because she’s really, really good at it. Or, because, she somehow figured out we, and by we, I mean I, really needed her comforting not long after the birth of my first child.

Lamott’s “Operating Instructions” published in 1993, was a chronicle of the birth of her son Sam. It was honest—sometimes disarmingly, sometimes brutally—with Lamott seeming to hold nothing back, whether it was about disastrous relationships, her struggle with drugs and alcohol or the penetrating terror of finding one’s self completely responsible for the ongoing survival of another human being.

Lamott had already written four of her seven novels when “Operating” was published, launching her into a new genre that has produced 11 books. Described as someone who has “perfected the art of saying the unsayable,” Lamott will actually be saying some of that Saturday, March 14 (8 p.m.) at the Carpenter Center as part of its Wit and Wisdom series.

Last we checked, there are still tickets available for the event, click on the link below if you’d like to attend. We recommend you do.

Lamott has worked that amazing trick of being able to write with sentiment without sentimentality, though always being incisive, sometimes profound and always damn funny. (She also seems to have the most amazing friends who say the most amazing things in her books. Which reminds us that we, and by we I mean I, need to get better friends.)

If you’re interested in what you might expect Saturday, here are a few of our favorite Lamott-isms. Trust us, there are plenty more:

“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

-Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“One thing about having a baby is that each step of the way you simply cannot imagine loving him any more than you already do, because you are bursting with love, loving as much as you are humanly capable of- and then you do, you love him even more.”

-Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

-Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”

-Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life.”

-Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

“E.L. Doctorow said once that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”

-Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

An Evening With Anne Lamott is March 14, 8 p.m. at Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts, located on the campus of Cal State Long Beach at 6200 E. Atherton St. For tickets, click here.

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Steve Lowery began his journalism career at the Los Angeles Times, where he planned to spend his entire career. God, as usual, laughed at his plans and he has since written for the short-lived sports publication The National, the L.A. Daily News, the Press-Telegram, New Times LA, the District and the OC Weekly. He is the Arts & Culture Editor for the Post, overseeing the Hi-lo.
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