"Almost Everything: Notes on Hope" by Anne Lamott; Riverhead (189 pages, $20)
Just when you need someone to shake you by the shoulders and say, "Snap out of it," along comes Anne Lamott, bearing the writerly equivalent of a loaf of freshly baked bread – and a sharp knife.
In these unrelentingly anxious days, where "it's all Four Horsemen now, all the time," the author of several beloved bestsellers serves up her characteristic wisdom and wit, offering soul food for the weary and motherly advice on how we can all remain calm and keep our proverbial "stuff" together: "Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you."
Weighted by the despair, the anger, the hatred of our times, how to keep hope alive? Let her count the ways: There is still love, and goodness, too, along with the world's natural beauty, the power of stories, and our ability to embrace an inner peace. And then there's fear.
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Life is nothing if not full of paradoxes, she writes. In the same way that light can both obscure and illuminate, fear too, while unpleasant on its face, can work an unexpected magic in hard times: "Fear, against all odds, leads to community, to bravery and right action, and these give hope."
The Lamott faithful and new readers alike will find some useful therapy here, though the short book's scattered nuggets of random truths oftentimes resonate greater than the whole.