Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

by

Author: Lamott, Anne

Title: Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

Genre: Popular Nonfiction/Spiritual/Inspiritational/Bestsellers

Publication date: 2005

Number of pages: 320

Geographical setting: U.S. cities, mostly in northern California

Time period: Present

Series: (If applicable): Not applicable

Plot summary: A collection of funny, smart, passionate essays and true stories that basically describes Lamott’s experiences of God and faith. The former alcoholic, drug addict and bulimic is a natural story teller with a signature voice that is at once acerbic, candid, compassionate and self-deprecating without being cloying. Topics range from Lamott’s leftist political views, her aging, reconciling with her mother after her death, coping with her teenage son Sam, euthanizing her dog, forgiveness, reconnecting with her son’s father eight years after his birth, and more. Most of the events take place around Marin County, California, where she lives. Lamott is at her edgiest when railing against social injustice, and most honest when describing her own foibles and flaws. Always, she finds grace in the details. This is a follow-up to her earlier Traveling Mercies: Thoughts on Faith.

Subject headings: Lamott, Anne; Religion; Novelists, American; 20th century; biography; Christian; Faith.

Appeal: Truthful, self-aware, funny, passionate, wise, humorous, irreverent, wrenchingly honest, Christian, perceptive, droll, smart, liberal values, interfaith beliefs, social justice, sharp writing, personal, spiritual, compassionate.

Three terms that best describe this book: Honest; humorous; spiritual.

Similar author and works and why they are similar:

3 Relevant  Non-fiction Works and Authors:

a) Picking Dandelions: A search for Eden among life’s weeds by Sarah Cunningham.  This daughter of a Baptist minister views her faith not as a “one and done event like a sinner’s prayer” but as a journey for a lifetime. Self-mocking, honest, and a captivating story-teller, Cunningham writes about her spiritual growth from childhood on to her present life as a mother and idealistic teacher. Some consider her a younger Lamott.

b) Eat, Pray, Love: One woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. Although this is a full-length memoir, its incisive writing, dry wit and spiritual undertone make it a lovely companion to Lamott. Gilbert writes in clear, intelligent, funny, readable journalistic prose, with tantalizing descriptions of exotic locales and about poignantly emotional events of heartache, spiritual search, and longing for love. Her courage to share openly and authentically about her experiences of pain, humiliation and learning from other people and faith traditions, while retaining her charming, self-deprecating wit, made this Lamott fan and readers everywhere fall in love with the author and her book.

c) Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller. Miller’s earnestness contrasts with Lamott’s punchy bluntness and wry humor, but his intimate stories of rediscovering his faith, and his straightforward and progressive approach to Christianity are strongly reminiscent of Lamott at her best. Both have a down-to-earth take on spirituality as a personal, living, relevant day-to-day experience that isn’t dictated by what others say it should be.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

a) Putting Away Childish Things: A tale of modern faith by Marcus Borg. Well-known Christian scholar Borg uses the compelling tale of progressive Midwestern religion professor Kate, through her modern trials and tribulations, to discuss the place of Christianity and its traditional teachings in the 21st century.

b) Life Goes On by Philip Gulley. Part of the Harmony series about a quirky Quaker congregation in Harmony, Indiana led by Pastor Sam Gardner of Harmony Friends Meeting. The delightfully flawed characters’ slice-of-life stories demonstrate the grace of God found everywhere, from friendships to fights. Not as edgy as Lamott but equally thoughtful about the place of faith in our lives.

c) Evensong by Gail Godwin. This evocative novel set in the Smokies in Western North Carolina just before the end of the 20th century about an Episcopalian woman minister who questions the foundation of her marriage is a deeply satisfying read. It draws you in quietly with its insight and empathy for its characters, the varied and interesting parishioners with their tales of conflicts of emotions, faith, and loyalty. There is gentle humor but mostly a deep spiritual sense of possibilities and hope.

Name: Soon Har

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