The Christian folk band, Traveling Mercies introduced me to Anne Lamott’s wisdom book titled “Traveling Merices.”
What are the odds of that?
Well, pretty good actually, since the band took its name from the book.
That little book charmed me no end, as did Lamott's follow-up volumes. In each one she seems to be a Mulligan stew of contradictions — vulnerable yet resilient, earthy yet spiritual, old yet young. So when I got wind she was coming to speak in Park City last week, for me, showing up was a no brainer.
I went looking to listen.
The format for the evening was question and answer, with Lamott offering long, long thoughts on a dozen topics. They say people who heard Mark Twain in person could never tell where his casual conversation ended and his books began.
Ditto for Lamott.
She shared anecdotes from past books and offered bits and pieces of new material, as if testing them for a fresh publication. She was as wry and wise as everyone hoped. She also managed to drop in some classic Lamott zingers.
“It’s good we’re not all crazy on the same day,” she said at one point. And, “Be honest in writing your memoirs. If people wanted you to write better things about them, they should have behaved better.”
She said the letters G-O-D stood for “Goodness On Display.”
It can’t be easy being Anne Lamott. Just as everyone expects Steve Martin to always be funny and Oprah to always be wise, people always expect Lamott to be deadly honest, provocative and entertaining.
In Park City, to illustrate her unique sense of Christianity, she used images from old 1950s television cartoons and a tidbit from Dr. Seuss. When talking about her family she told all she could without telling too much. Despite the wrenching reality of motherhood, she still has a thing for babies.Comment on this story
“A baby’s skin is proof enough for me there is a God,” she said.
Afterward, depleted and drained, she stayed around to sign books for those willing to wait in line. I waited with other diehards.
As she was signing my book I asked, “If Oprah becomes president, would you be willing to serve as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare?”
“Yes,” she said, without looking up. “But I’d rather be in charge of the entertainment committee.”
Her whistle-stop visit to Park City showed us all just how good she’d be at it.