www.montereycountyweekly.com march 7-13, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 19 sure. On the list there’s information that everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy and scared, even the people who seem to have it most “together” or that “almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” That particular sense of optimism, pragmatic but hopeful rather than pollyannaish, comes through in her forthcoming book, Somehow: Thoughts on Love, due out on April 10. An excerpt: “One walks along the way mulling over old hurts and new ways to save and rescue family members—good luck with that—and ingenious schemes for alleviating the national political madness, world starvation, disease, tribal wars. Love often looks like grief. Love seems to be good friends with death, although I would prefer it was better friends with comfort and mirth. Love is compassion, which Neal defines as the love that arises in the presence of suffering. 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? Maybe; I think so. Somehow.” She spoke about her new book, and her journey as a writer, in an interview with the Weekly in advance of her appearance at Sunset Center. Weekly: Did you have to learn how to become a writer? Anne Lamott: My father was a writer. So I knew the writer’s habits. That you just have to sit down and write every day, whether you are in the mood or not and whether you have “inspiration” or not. You just sit down and do it. You write and something will happen. There’s so much poetry in your prose. Do you read a lot of poetry? It’s a miracle that a poet can capture a whole world or a whole secret moment in just a few words. I read a lot of poetry. I grew up on Wallace Stevens and e.e. cummings and [W.H.] Auden and Adrienne Rich. I love Ada Limón and Mary Oliver. That’s right off the bat. Have you ever, perhaps as a child, considered for yourself other options than being a writer? I played tennis. I was good at it and I ranked high in Northern California, but I didn’t have the right mindset, the psychological drive to do it. I really wanted to get out of competitive tennis. There was a long time when I loved philosophy and English. I got a scholarship on the East Coast. When I dropped out [of college], I supported myself by teaching tennis and cleaning houses. Your sense of humor is legendary— there’s so much of it in your books. How does it feel when you read a joke you wrote, let’s say, 20 years ago? It’s funny because I think I was kind of more show-offy when I was younger. I thought I had to be funny in order for people to like me. And now, at this age—I will be 70 soon [April 10]—humor feels a little more organic. I’m not trying quite as hard. But I still find the world incredibly funny and absurd. About the upcoming book, Somehow: Thoughts on Love, to be published on April 10: Your writing became almost spiritual. It’s simple and profound. In one of the interviews you said you are done with the form of a novel. Why is that? God, I think I’m just old. A novel takes three very solid years to have a draft and then another year before it’s published. A novel is about keeping a lot of plates spinning in the air and I’m not sure I have the stamina. I sure love to read novels. I keep not coming up with novels. But who knows what the future holds? My new book will be published in April, for my 70th birthday, and then it will take me a few months before I make a decision on what to write next. Oh, gosh. What is it? Now I remember that in my late 40s the Washington Post told me to write those columns about getting older and I was offended. I am still active. I don’t walk on hills anymore because of my hips, but I do “In recovery, you learn to accept life on life’s terms.” Sam Lamott Bestselling writer Anne Lamott in the park, photographed by her husband. Her short dreadlocks are her hallmark. Below: Lamott’s forthcoming book is due out in April.