18 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY march 7-13, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Author and activist Anne Lamott reflects on life and literature before her 70th birthday, and a talk in Carmel. By Agata Pope˛da Everything Comes Together There is no lack of events celebrating International Women’s Day, March 8, 2024, in Monterey County. Considered by some older Americans as a Soviet import, the holiday was actually invented by the Socialist Party of America in 1909. In other words, it couldn’t be more American. The longest celebration is being thrown by the Sunset Cultural Center in Carmel, an institution run by women: Managing Director Beth Bowman and Artistic Director Christine Sandin. The center introduces no less than Women’s Week, with plenty of things to do before, during and after March 8 (for a complete schedule, see sidebar, p. 20; for other events happening elsewhere in Monterey County, see Hot Picks, p. 24). Things kicked off on Wednesday, March 6 with the women of Sunset Center gathering on a KRML radio program, discussing experiences and hurdles creative women deal with. On Thursday, March 7, a concert titled “Trailblazing Women of Country” takes place, with a program that celebrates Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. Then, on the holiday proper, the highlight of Women’s Week takes place—a meeting with beloved author Anne Lamott, who lives in Marin County, but decided to come to Monterey County for International Women’s Day to celebrate with local women. ••• Lamott has written 20 books to date, with the 20th, Somehow: Thoughts on Love, coming out in April. Seven of those are books of fiction, but Lamott is best known for her nonfiction, general reflections on life that make the reader feel that they are talking with a best friend, wise and honest. Her writing is mostly autobiographical, dealing with life’s hardships and filled with self-deprecating humor. The most famous are her autobiographical books such as Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year (1993), Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1994) or her more recent Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace (2014). Progressive and religious, Lamott has also written several collections of autobiographical essays on faith. Her first book was Hard Laughter (1979), written for her father, known writer Kenneth Lamott, once he was diagnosed with brain cancer. A funny book about cancer. As a narrator, Lamott is human, giving her readers permission to be human, too, to make mistakes and grow from them. The effect is soothing, the atmosphere is encouraging. In fact, Lamott sounds like herself across various media, whether it’s a book, a public event or in a one-on-one interview. That book was also the end of her as an atheist and as a drinker. She dropped alcohol and found faith in her early 30s. Operating Instructions was her first bestseller. Bird by Bird, which contains advice from her writing father, is one of the most favorite books of all time, according to The Guardian. Called, by the New York Times, a “lefty guru of optimism,” Lamott gave a TED Talk in 2017 that has been viewed almost 7 million times. The talk contains a list of things she knows for “Are love and compassion up to the stark realities we face at the dinner table, and down the street, and at the icecaps, or within Iranian nuclear plants and our own Congress?”