Operating Instructions

Operating Instructions

A Journal of My Son's First Year

Book - 1993
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"I woke up with a start at 4:00 one morning and realized that I was very, very pregnant." So begins novelist Aniie Lamott's journal of the birth of her son, Sam, and their first year together. She must face complicated circumstances of heroic proportions. A single mother who must support herself and her son entirely by her wit and craft, she is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for more than three years. Newly and militantly on her own side, she remains dangerously close to memories of days when she "couldn't take decent care of cats." Fortunately, Lamott is one of the world's funniest people. And she desperately needs her sense of humor as she chronicles her new life with Sam. Plagued by the normal worries of all first-time mothers, she adds her concern that she is "much too self-centered, cynical, and edgy to raise a baby." One false step will turn her sweet, big-eyed boy into an ax murderer. And no matter how well she handles things Sam will still have to get through the seventh grade. Even in exhaustion and despair, she is buoyed up by her deepening religious faith and her somewhat eccentric extended fimily, friends who offer her great love and loyalty and are much-needed replacements for Sam's absent father. But this year of new beginnings suddenly includes the beginning of an end. Lamott's best friend since childhood, her birth coach and a daily companion to her and Sam, is diagnosed as having terminal cancer. As Lamott copes with the vexations of single motherhood, she must also accept this unimaginable loss. Facing both joy and grief greater than any she has ever known, she must find within herself the capacity to continue. Her courageous commentary, narrating days barely balanced between angst and strength, fills this journal of a year when "sometimes it feels like God has reached down and touched me, blessed me a thousand times over, and sometimes it all feels like a mean joke, like God's advisers are Muammar Qaddafi and Phyllis Schlafly." With hope and humor, she wrenches from the mundane rock-solid evidence of the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit. Her complex vision, inspired by joy, makes us laugh out loud.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, 1993
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780679420910
Characteristics: x, 251 p. ; 20 cm


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Nov 01, 2017

Reading this book brought back vivid memories of my first years as a mother. Now that I'm deep in my childrens' teen years, it is soothing to remember the early struggles mixed with the sheer wonder of their existence. Lamont's bracing honesty gives me constant comfort when I wonder whether I'm doing it right. The answer is who knows? Nobody can say because there is no roadmap.

Dec 03, 2014

This is a classic--possibly the most hilarious mother-of-young-infant memoir written, seasoned with philosophical insight.

Apr 13, 2013

Boycott this book. Seriously. Anne Lamott's commentary about her son's circumcision (and HOW DARE she approve of circumcision and masquerade as a feminist - does bodily integrity apply to women only!?!) has to rank as among the most ignorant that I've ever read. To Lamott, circumcision was the preferred option over keeping her son intact (primarily) for aesthetic reasons (She offers up a few other red herrings - "it's easier to clean" or "it will prevent penile cancer" but is clear that looks alone were the reason she opted to mutilate him). As if somehow, a man choosing to have his daughter's clitoral hood removed for aesthetic grounds would justified in doing so. Well, f*ck you, Miss Lamott! Seriously, as an intact male, and someone who advocates genital integrity for ALL humans (male, female, trans alike), how could you??!?

Jan 07, 2011

This book was gifted to me while I was pregnant and, yes, single. Just as Anne is in this memoir. I read it and cried. I read it and laughed. I read it in the bathtub and got bubble residue on it. This book got me through the worst parts of single-adult-mom-pregnancy... when people would ask me about the father or tell me how happy he must be, I just laughed inside and thought of how Anne dealt with that. I admire her ability to selflessly share what was, for me, one of the toughest, defining times in my life. When she talks about how she "REALLY" felt hearing her baby cry or bounce off the bed accidentally... so many of these diary entries I experienced later and thought, "Well she got through this!" Even if I hadn't shared this experience with her, I would adore this book for it's honesty and it's pacing, which walks you through the ups and downs of a new mom's life. Not the Mommy-and-Me-Yoga life... but the real nitty gritty of why it's wonderful and terrifying to be a mom doing it all alone.

Oct 27, 2009

I loved this very funny journal.

Dec 05, 2007

Operating Instructions was the first book I read by Anne Lamott and it remains one of my favorites (I also love Bird by Bird). It's about Anne's first year as single mom to her son Sam. For the most part the book is hilarious but there is also a sad element when Anne's best friend copes with cancer. Just like life sometimes; happy and sad events at the same time.


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