When Anne Lamott started penning Rosie in 1980, she had no idea that the family contained therein Elizabeth, James and Rosie would be reappearing for Crooked Little Heart and again in Imperfect Birds, her just-released novel that begins the summer before Rosies senior year in high school. A number of things had come up as a parent of a teenager, Lamott says. Like the knowledge of what teenage girls were doing for teenage boys and asking nothing in return, which is so appalling. And the devastation from drugs that weve had in our country and our state was just so painful and troubling that I started to wonder what would happen to Rosie and her family if she got involved.
The world of this one family in northern California, where the parents really adore each other and the child is just an extremely high-achieving, really fabulous person but has very sneakily begun using more drugs than just experiments its really getting on a dark road. I hope people find the book really entertaining, and I hope they find it painful. Its painful stuff, Lamott says.
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Its painful on the one hand because Rosies such a great kid. Theres just so much at stake in her life, because shes so brilliant and precious and wild, and thats what makes a novel, is that theres something at stake. Thats where the tension comes from. And at the same time, I dont think its depressing at all. I think its really important that we have this conversation, and I think its really important that we agree to pay attention, that we agree as the adults in a society where were losing too many kids, that we respond by paying attention and finding ways that we can be of some service whether its to a kid, a niece, a nephew, a parent who doesnt even know where to begin that we just be willing to enter into the dialogue and into the possibility of helping people get the help they might need, helping people not be ashamed that this might be happening in their families, not feel completely defeated, help people understand how profound a helping hand and a listening ear is. Lamott will sign Imperfect Birds tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Lodo, 1628 16th Street; free numbered tickets for the book-signing line will be handed out starting at 6:30. Call 303-436-1070 or visit www.tatteredcover.com.
Fri., April 16, 7:30 p.m., 2010