I am unashamedly in love with Anne Lamott. She is my biggest literary girl-crush. Everything she touches turns to gold, and I could probably read her play-by-play of a grocery check-out and laugh myself silly.
I had this blond, shaggy surfer friend a while back who we just referred to as ‘Dude,’ and he would tell these stories like, ‘I went to the Wendy’s yesterday to get some chili, and they didn’t have any!’ And we’d be all, ‘And then…?’ And he would sort of shrug and say, ‘I got a frosty instead.’ And that became known as a ‘Dude-story,’ one you thought was going to go somewhere, and didn’t.
Grace (Eventually) has a leg up on the Dude-stories, in that they’re usually much more involved, and that there’s a sheer pleasure to be taken in the reading of them. It’s kind of like listening to Irish people talk, in that it doesn’t really matter what they’re saying, because the delight is how they say it. And Lamott hasn’t flagged in that area at all.
But definitely in Travelling Mercies and definitely (I think) in Operating Instructions and probably (I forget, actually) in Plan B, her stories would all start here and then go jaunting over there and then I’d be laughing for a bit and then I might shed a tear, and then at the end she’d bring it back full-circle with some witty or poignant observation, and I’d feel like I’d just finished a puzzle, with all my pieces there in their proper places and the smooth, satisfying surface staring up at me. The stories in Grace are all great, and hilarious, and moving and useful and fresh, but they don’t seem to go anywhere. Sometimes she carries on for a few paragraphs longer than is necessary, and sometimes she just sort of…yeah, that’s the end of my story, I guess.
But hey, a bad day at the beach is still better than a good day at work, right?