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Anne Lamott: Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son

Master memoirist Anne Lamott is back with, yes, another memoir, this one about the out-of-wedlock birth of her first grandchild by her 19-year-old son Sam, whose own out-of-wedlock birth she had chronicled in her bestseller Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year. As with her previous books, this one is quirky and roaringly funny, with the Marin author navigating through her first year of unexpected grandmotherhood, while Sam and his girlfriend, Amy, navigate unplanned parenthood. Unlike Lamott’s traumatic experiences 20 years earlier, Sam and Amy’s trials are minor. Whereas Lamott had to endure the death of her best friend when Sam was a baby, Sam and Amy are forced merely to contemplate—but not execute—a move to Chicago to be near Amy’s family. As a single mom Lamott was nearly penniless; Sam and Amy are heavily subsidized. Thus the book lacks Operating Instructions’ drama, though the detail and wit are pure Lamott: Maternity ward meals “looked like upscale pet food, with a side of boiled vegetables,” and the National Enquirer and People are “the sacred texts of crisis.” I would have liked her to delve deeper into her feelings about solo grandmotherhood in the way she examined every aspect of solo motherhood. But her thirsty fans won’t mind the fact that she keeps it light, particularly if it means she’s holding back material for another memoir. B+