Friday, April 07, 2006

Potpourri Friday

Last year, I wrote about a week that was so full of learning, discovery, fun, excitement and opportunity, a week so pregnant with possibility that I now think, looking back at it, that I didn't even begin to really describe it. I suppose I was just too wrapped up in all the energy to be able to step back and describe it well. Or possibly I'm a poor writer. Or maybe both.

Anyway, I had another one of those weeks this week. And yet, as of this writing, I've barely begun my Friday, and it too will be overflowing, filled with interesting things and great people, not the least of which will involve being on hand to watch and hear two remarkable individuals who are coming to town today, two people who I think are certified American masters, writer Annie Lamott and Congressman Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania.

As some readers may recall, I wrote about Murtha last November, in
this longish bit of musing which I headlined "Maybe All it Takes is One Tough Democrat." He'll be at the City Club for one of their patented luncheon addresses today, and I'm sure the room will be overflowing. A few hours later, I'll be a hundred blocks to the east, on the Case campus, in the Gothic loveliness of Amasa Stone Chapel (a testament to Cleveland's enormous legacy wealth), to hear a lady that I can't believe I've never even mentioned once in this space. Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is easily one of the five (or perhaps two or three) most powerful books ever written about the writing impulse, how to harness it, what to do with it, how to understand it. Just please read it, if you haven't already (you can find links to all her books here, but my suggestion is that you order and buy from an independent bookstore, more about which below).

But her later books, especially Traveling Mercies, are equally powerful, though different experiences. She's a poet and a mystic and a prophet and a patriot and the most honest, most moving, most luminous, soul-stirring Christian writing today, perhaps in the entire English language. And all from lefty Marin County, across the bridge from San Fran. And it's all free. Thanks to my favorite indy bookstore proprietor, Mac's Backs Suzanne D. (who doubles as one of Cleveland's chief instigators and supporters of all things having to do with books, writing and the life of the mind), for tipping me off early to this event, via a timely poster beneath the register.

For a preview of what's to come with Lamott, the PD's Evelyn Theiss, a talented reporter and writer, and an old acquaintance from back in the days when she was a dazzling staff writer at Cleveland Magazine (I'll never forget a remarkable piece she did on union corruption, which ended with her quoting a Teamster basically threatening her and her employer), wrote
this piece in yesterday's P.D. It's a lovely Q&A from a phone interview she did with Lamott. She also mentioned Lamott briefly in this book review she wrote back in 2000, when she was still the paper's fashion editor.

Now you please have a lovely day, gentle reader, and an even lovelier weekend. And tomorrow, perhaps, I'll tell you about a Working With Words essay contest, whose winners will lay claim to an Anne Lamott book of their choice.


At 11:18 AM, Blogger Daniella said...


What a wonderful day you have created for yourself, how I wished you had invited me to share part of this adventure in real time, instead I will continue my own gray journey and look for the fanciful beauty in the ordinary. I am anxious to hear what you have discovered, always.

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Jill said...

Enjoy Lamott, John. I saw her at a writer's conference in Tahoe - my first one (I'd won a contest to get there). She is a NUT in the best possible way. Fascinating person willing to share so much of herself. I definitely look to her inside out writing as a model.

At 7:58 AM, Blogger Maria said...

Coincidentally, I had just picked up the classic "Bird by Bird" as Lamott was in town (though like much of the world, I had never heard of Case's Humanities Week and did not know she was passing through). I read "Traveling Mercies" some time back. I remember vividly the struggles she depicted and the wonderful home she found at a church. Saw Regina Brett's column about the reading and figured it was only for a mysterious inner circle...


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