Bird by Bird : Biography
Anne Lamott was born in San Francisco, California, on April 10, 1954. Her father, Kenneth Lamott, was a writer who inspired Anne to become one too. Her mother Dorothy was an attorney. She has two brothers. Lamott writes about growing up in a dysfunctional family in which her father drank too much and hung out with other alcoholic writers. She grew up in Marin County, California, known for its unusual alternate lifestyles that embarrassed the author as a child. She longed to be normal, but her unconventional life has served her well as a writer. She quit after two years of college to become a full-time journalist and author. Her first novel, Hard Laughter (1980) was an account of her father's death from brain cancer. Her father coached her as she wrote it, and it was her initiation as a writer. Other novels include Rosie (1983), Joe Jones (1985), All New People (1989), Crooked Little Heart (1997), Blue Shoes (2002), and Imperfect Birds (2010). Lamott drew characters from people she knew in Marin County where much of her fiction is set. She also uses characters she encountered when working in a restaurant in Petaluma, California.
Lamott is better known, however, for her memoirs and personal essays. She became famous with her account of single motherhood in Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year (1993). This much-loved and humorous book led to regular spots on National Public Radio. The sequel of this was written with her son Sam Lamott in 2012, called, Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son, in which she discusses being a grandmother. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1994) continues to be her most famous and best-selling book. It draws on her experience as a writing teacher. Lamott, like her father, had a drinking problem, and quit drinking in 1986. She embraced the Mormon faith. A practicing liberal Christian, she is well known for her many personal essays on the place of religion and faith in modern life, such as Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith (1999), Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith (2005), Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith (2007), Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (2012), Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair (2013). Lamott continues to speak and write in her honest, funny, and unconventional voice about life's trials and how people get through tough times with faith, love, and community. She encourages others to write to see their lives as meaningful journeys.