In "Some Assembly Required," Anne Lamott returns to the subject of babies in a follow-up to her mega-successful and much beloved bestseller, "Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year." Congregants of the Lamott faithful will remember Sam, the subject of "Operating Instructions." This time around, not 20 years later, Sam is the one having a son -- Jax -- which yields an opportunity for his mother to expound on the joys and neuroses of grandmotherhood.
The memoir highlights the trademark humor we've come to expect from Lamott, with laugh-out-loud one-liners that are both self-deprecating and wise ("We all like [Jax] again and have decided to renew his lease.") Into her day-to-day accounts she injects shots of her particular spirituality and faith and continues to inspire with keen observations on the world.
Peppered throughout are interviews with Sam, to offer his perspective on being a 19-year-old father while maintaining his status as full-time art student. Sam has inherited his mother's intelligence and sympathetic voice, though his sections are not as strong as the crackling wit of his mother. For that matter, grandmotherhood (not to mention the critical and financial successes wrought since "Operating Instructions") has lessened the urgency of Anne Lamott's story. Being a step removed from the sleepless nights and continuous demands of an infant and a deadline have understandably softened her perceptions on child rearing, and as a result the writing is less immediate, the edginess dulled.
Still, "Some Assembly Required" is a welcome addition in the larger Gospel of Lamott.