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Operating Instructions

Cover of Operating Instructions

Operating Instructions

A Journal of My Son's First Year
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It seems no mother of a newborn has ever been more hilarious, more honest, or more touching than Ann Lamott is in OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS. A single parent whose baby's father is out of the picture, Lamott struggles not only to support her little family by her wits and her writing, but to stay sober at the same time. Faith in God helps; so does her loyal band of helpers, from her childless best friend Pammy to her mother and "Aunt Dudu" to the folks at the La Leche League hotline. And between colic, wheat-free diets, and the triumph of solid food, Lamott learns that blessings and losses come together, and that as our capacity for joy increases, so does our capacity for grief.
"An enormous triumph . . . Charming . . . Powerful . . . A gracious book, with dozens of lovingly drawn characters and a deep, infectious religiosity throughout. It is also funny." -- San Francisco Chronicle
"Smart, funny and comforting . . . Lamott has a conversational style that perfectly conveys her friendly, self-deprecating humor." -- Los Angeles Times Book Review

From the Trade Paperback edition.

It seems no mother of a newborn has ever been more hilarious, more honest, or more touching than Ann Lamott is in OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS. A single parent whose baby's father is out of the picture, Lamott struggles not only to support her little family by her wits and her writing, but to stay sober at the same time. Faith in God helps; so does her loyal band of helpers, from her childless best friend Pammy to her mother and "Aunt Dudu" to the folks at the La Leche League hotline. And between colic, wheat-free diets, and the triumph of solid food, Lamott learns that blessings and losses come together, and that as our capacity for joy increases, so does our capacity for grief.
"An enormous triumph . . . Charming . . . Powerful . . . A gracious book, with dozens of lovingly drawn characters and a deep, infectious religiosity throughout. It is also funny." -- San Francisco Chronicle
"Smart, funny and comforting . . . Lamott has a conversational style that perfectly conveys her friendly, self-deprecating humor." -- Los Angeles Times Book Review

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    SOME THOUGHTS ON BEING PREGNANT:A PREFACE OF SORTS

    I woke up with a start at 4:00 one morning and realized that I was very, very pregnant. Since I had conceived six months earlier, one might have thought that the news would have sunk in before then, and in many ways it had, but it was on that early morning in May that I first realized how severely pregnant I was. What tipped me off was that, lying on my side and needing to turn over, I found myself unable to move. My first thought was that I had had a stroke.

    Nowadays I go around being aware that I am pregnant with the same constancy and lack of surprise with which I go around being aware that I have teeth. But a few times a day the information actually causes me to gasp--how on earth did I come to be in this condition? Well, I have a few suspicions. I mean, I am beginning to put two and two together. See, there was this guy. But the guy is no longer around, and my stomach is noticeably bigger every few days.

    I could have had an abortion--the pressure to do so was extraordinary--and if need be, I would take to the streets, armed, to defend the right of any woman for any reason to terminate a pregnancy, but I was totally unable to do so this time psychologically, psychically, emotionally. Just totally. So I am going to have a baby pretty soon, and this has raised some mind-boggling issues.

    For instance, it occurs to me over and over that I am much too self-centered, cynical, eccentric, and edgy to raise a baby, especially alone. (The baby's father was dramatically less excited than I was to find out I was pregnant, so much so that I have not seen or heard from him in months and don't expect to ever again.) At thirty-five years old, I may be too old and too tired to be having my first child. And I really did think for several seconds that I might have had a stroke; it is not second nature for me to believe that everything is more or less okay. Clearly, my nerves are shot.

    For example, the other day one of the innumerable deer that come down here from the mountain to eat in the garden and drink from the stream remained where it was as I got closer and closer. It was standing between me and my front door. I thought, Boy, they're getting brazen, and I walked closer and closer to it, finally to within four or five feet, when suddenly it tensed. My first thought was that it was about to lunge at me, snarling. Of course it turned instead and bolted through the woods, but I was left with the increasingly familiar sense that I am losing my grasp on reality.

    One moment I'm walking along the salt marsh listening to sacred choral music on headphones, convinced that the music is being piped in through my ears, into my head, down my throat, and into my torso where the baby will be able to hear it, and the next moment I'm walking along coaching the baby on how best to grow various body parts. What are you, some kind of nut? I ask myself, and I know the answer is yes, some kind of nut, and maybe one who is not well enough to be a mother. But this is not the worst fear.

    Even the three weeks of waiting for the results of the amniocentesis weren't the most fearful part, nor was the amnio itself. It was, in fact, one of the sweetest experiences of my life. My friend Manning drove me into San Francisco and stayed with me through the procedure, and, well, talk about intimate. It made sex look like a game of Twister. I lay there on the little table at the hospital with my stomach sticking out, Manning near my head holding my hands, a nurse by my feet patting me from time to time, one doctor running the ultrasound device around and around the surface of my tummy, the other doctor taking...

About the Author-
  • Anne Lamott is the bestselling author of Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies and of five novels, including Rosie and Crooked Little Heart. She lives in Fairfax, California, with her son.

Reviews-
  • The Washington Post

    "A funny, self-mocking, vivid account by a gifted novelist and journalist."

  • San Francisco Chronicle "An enormous triumph . . . Charming . . . Powerful . . . A gracious book, with dozens of lovingly drawn characters and a deep, infectious religiosity throughout. It is also funny."
  • Los Angeles Times Book Review "Smart, funny, and comforting . . .Lamott has a conversational style that perfectly conveys her friendly, self-deprecating humor."
  • Chicago Tribune "Lamott is a wonderfully lithe writer. . . . Anyone who has ever had a hard time facing a perfectly ordinary day will identify."
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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Operating Instructions
Operating Instructions
A Journal of My Son's First Year
Anne Lamott
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