Sunday, October 03, 2010

Crooked Little Heart by Anne Lamott

Crooked Little Heart by Anne Lamott picks up several years after her novel Rosie.  Elizabeth and James are making it work even though “it” isn’t always easy.  Their friends Rae and Lank continue to search for love in all the wrong places.  And Rosie has struggles of her own: her best-friend and tennis partner is a flake, she’s being stalked by some guy who loves tennis or little girls, and she’s still trying to make sense of things that happened in the first novel including her father’s death.

I love Lamott’s humor and, as I pointed out before, her humor is lacking in these novels.  I wonder if she’s trying so hard to avoid creating characters that are too much drawn from her own life that she ends up taking out the best (her humor) and leaving the rest.  Obviously some of what she is writing in these novels is taken from her immediate experience.  Changing the details doesn’t change the truth and truth is best served with a solid side of laughter.

I dislike Elizabeth over all.  I just don’t like her.  I wouldn’t want to be her friend and I only might want to be her neighbor because I would like to think the aroma of her roses would occasionally blow in my direction.

I dislike James who seems to me a good mate for Elizabeth mostly because his narcissism matches her own.  He seems more bumbling than engaging.  Rae comes closest to being an interesting character but even she falls tediously flat for me and then Lank is there to balance things out, I suppose. I don’t know.  The adults all bore me.

But Rosie . . . what a character!  Not likeable, necessarily, but she’s an honest character.  She’s interesting because she is both vulnerable and prickly.  You want to get close to her but you don’t dare reach out to hold her.  You feel her pain but never presume to know how to ease it for her.  Maybe because, even though she’s only 13 in this novel, you know she can deal with it and will deal with it.  And even when she’s making really stupid choices, you still sympathize (which is more than I can say for how I ever felt for any of the grown-ups in these novels).

I hope that in the third book (which I currently have “on request” at my library, Rosie will grow up and into Anne Lamott’s humor.  I want Lamott’s humor, dammit! Or maybe like Rae and Lank, I’m looking in the wrong places–Lamott’s novels–and need to start looking where I know I will find it–her essays.

With all of that said, I liked this novel slightly more than Rosie but so slightly that I won’t be giving it more stars or a solid recommendation.  However, the third book may have me revise my opinion of the whole series of Rosie novels.  Given what I know of her already, I have a feeling that I’ll be nudging her into a four star and very recommended category.  To be honest, I’d be surprised if she disappointed me because I think I trust Lamott enough to carry through.  We shall see.

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