Clipped Wings

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 Rosie’s 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 we’ve 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 — it’s really getting on a dark road. I hope people find the book really entertaining, and I hope they find it painful. It’s painful stuff,” Lamott says.

“It’s painful on the one hand because Rosie’s such a great kid. There’s just so much at stake in her life, because she’s so brilliant and precious and wild, and that’s what makes a novel, is that there’s something at stake. That’s where the tension comes from. And at the same time, I don’t think it’s depressing at all. I think it’s really important that we have this conversation, and I think it’s really important that we agree to pay attention, that we agree as the adults in a society where we’re losing too many kids, that we respond by paying attention and finding ways that we can be of some service — whether it’s to a kid, a niece, a nephew, a parent who doesn’t 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
Fri., April 16, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen