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Hard Laughter Anne Lamott s poignant first novel, reissued in an attractive new editionWriter and sometime housecleaner Jennifer is twenty three when her beloved father, Wallace, is diagnosed with a brain tumor This catastrophic discovery sets off Anne Lamott s unexpectedly sweet and funny first novel, which is made dramatic not so much by Wallace s illness as by the emotional wake it sweeps under Jen and her brothers, self contained Ben and feckless, lovable Randy With characteristic affection and accuracy, Lamott sketches this offbeat family and their nearest and dearest as they draw ever closer in the intimacy Jen prizes among the other estimable things good music, good hard laughter, good sex, good industry, and good books This is Anne Lamott s first novel It is also the first Anne Lamott novel I read Maybe if I didn t know her themes so well, it wouldn t have felt so painfully, awkwardly autobiographical, but because I have read some of her memoirs, I cringed at how transparently the sweet but screwy protagonist, Jennifer, represented the author.Jennifer is 23 and her father has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor She seems to have an unacknowledged drinking problem She isn t religious but the numinous This is Anne Lamott s first novel It is also the first Anne Lamott novel I read Maybe if I didn t know her themes so well, it wouldn t have felt so painfully, awkwardly autobiographical, but because I have read some of her memoirs, I cringed at how transparently the sweet but screwy protagonist, Jennifer, represented the author.Jennifer is 23 and her father has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor She seems to have an unacknowledged drinking problem She isn t religious but the numinous haunts her She is obsessed with her skin and hair She is zany Her family is oh so delightfully quirky, as are her deeply troubled neighbors in the hippie wilds of Marin County She refers to a ten year old as her friend, very earnestly if adorably, as if relying on a ten year old for emotional succor, and subjecting the child to one s romantic woes, is OK and charmingly eccentric, not messed up.So, basically, it s a novel that isn t as good as the memoirs that follow but which tracks the themes of the later memoirs.However, Lamott s voice is great, and there is a vividness to her descriptions, and a pleasing if too cute candor to her discussion of her home, romantic life, and emotional stability I will try another Lamott novel, methinks This was a book I thought about giving up on many times There are three reasons why I continued 1 I want to like Anne Lamott s fiction because I so loved Bird by Bird , 2 the theme of the book dealing with a father s failing health was a personal connection, and 3 I hoped to find an answer to why the author would choose to give her 23 year old protagonist a best friend who was only 10 years old In the end, I liked moment of Anne Lamott s fiction I would give her another try because I This was a book I thought about giving up on many times There are three reasons why I continued 1 I want to like Anne Lamott s fiction because I so loved Bird by Bird , 2 the theme of the book dealing with a father s failing health was a personal connection, and 3 I hoped to find an answer to why the author would choose to give her 23 year old protagonist a best friend who was only 10 years old In the end, I liked moment of Anne Lamott s fiction I would give her another try because I have faith that from her first novel, she only developed a better sense of how to write one I loved the way the novel ended, incomplete and hopeful But I still hated, truly hated, that the character Megan was only ten years old but sounded like she was thirty I have met many precocious young people I m a teacher, after all , but her character was altogether unbelievable and irritating. Give me anything by Anne Lamott and I will read it. I think many nonfiction books should be pamphlets.This novel should have been a short story A very, very short story.Yes, it is, at times, funny and sweet but good god, make something happen.

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