5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning prose, witty and familiar, warrant the high reviewer praise, April 2, 2011
By"coolkayaker1" (Fox Valley, Illinois USA) - See all my reviews
This review is for Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Paperback)
I have written positive reviews of others books on writing, but I have never been as moved by such a book until I read Bird By Bird from Annie Lamott. I came to this book on a lark, really. I may have heard about it on NPR, or in an online review, I don't recall. But it's clear I came into it with no notions, never having heard of Annie.
I am swept away by the cozy sincerity of the author, her voice true and experienced, a James Earle Jones reassurance in a petite package. Encouraging, authoritative.
When I was a child growing up in Massachusetts, I sat with my grandfather in his screen porch while he ate peanuts and listened to the Red Sox. He'd have tale after tale of his youth, mischief and lessons learned, and he always had a way of making it pertinent to me.
Ms. Lamott does the same in Bird By Bird. She breaks each concept into an essential tale from her own experience as a writer, a writing instructor and a woman. I remember the one where Annie had to rework her second novel, she describes the tribulations of rejection from her editor, each story scene in page piles, laid out on a huge open floor in front of her, shuffling and mending, rewriting and discarding. She arrives at a finished book that is not only accepted, but it's one of Anne's strongest works. (I plan to read that novel next). Bird By Bird is chock full of similar memorable vignettes.
This book is different than the thirty other books on craft that now stress my oak book shelf. It's not purely instructional, yet it's not just motivational. It is not rife with writing challenges or prompts (I think there are none), yet it's highly practical. A dash of Eudora Welty's On Writing, more eloquently written and equally helpful as Jill Dearman's Bang The Keys, Lamott's Bird By Bird is a safe haven to share--and by book's end, to shed--your innermost writing demons. Annie is your dorm mom, who's been through it all before, and will toast your victories, and cry with your failures.
Thank you, Annie. Your style of writing is what makes Bird By Bird soar. It was fun to read and informational, and is more than I had anticipated. I will read it again in a year or so, and will relish it's advice, like that of my late grandfather, all over again.