I told you Anne Lamott is my friend. Now I have proof. Look at us in the first picture below, both wearing our hair in locks and sporting headbands. Look at how we're leaning into each other. Best pals, we are. We share so much.
The only thing we don't share is that I am a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne, apparently, is not.
Last night I had the good fortune of attending a talk/reading by the two writers at Royce Hall, thanks to my friend V, who took me as her guest. It was a great evening; both women were hysterically funny and poignant. Excellent entertainment for the audience, but up on the stage there was tension.
They'd met for the first time only an hour before the discussion, and from what we could tell, Anne didn't appreciate Liz's introduction of her, which offered proper genuflection, but according to Anne was not a part of the original plan. That plan was for them to read from their work, then have a little chat, open the floor for questions, sign a few books, and go home. Instead, Liz bowed out of reading, and talked about Anne's impact on her as a writer, and how if it wasn't for the trail Anne had blazed, she never could have published Eat, Pray, Love. In a funny story about drinking and throwing up in celebration, she told how grateful she was that Anne had written a blurb for her book.
We in the audience thought this was quite lovely, but when it was Anne's turn at the mike, one of the first things she said was, I feel like I'm at a roast. She complained that Liz had thrown them off schedule by going on so long. From there, it went downhill. She went on to admit that she'd sent a Blackberry text to her agent earlier in the day, asking about Eat, Pray, Love, How many copies of that fucking book has she sold now? She acknowledged that her behavior was stink, but failed to do anything about it. Instead, she took jabs at Liz whenever she could, was corrective of her and dismissive of the event itself, and took it upon herself to set the agenda and moderate.
Liz, meanwhile, handled herself like a champ. She was clearly flummoxed by some of the things Anne said, but she remained composed and respectful, of both Anne and herself. I'll add that she's personable one on one, too. We're pretty doofless in the picture above -- we'll, I'm pretty doofless, I should say -- because while we were getting ready for the shot I admired her dress, and right before the flash she said, eBay. I said, I love eBay, and we started to laugh. There we are, captured in our mutal eBay admiration society.
I concluded the only thing I could, that Anne had a little chip on her shoulder that goes by the name jealousy.
I still love her; that will never change. Her struggle for grace is more of a struggle than I'd realized, but in spite of last night, I think she keeps trying (it's there on the page). It wasn't a delight for me to see that the emotional conflicts she's written about for 15 years haven't ebbed. But I continue to believe that the kind of intensely personal work that Anne Lamott does can be cathartic, and therefore capable of rendering the writer more kind. Call me naive in that. I certainly want this to be true for me, the same as when I read books like A New Earth. It's not just to say I've read them, but so that I can walk through the world with more peace, and grace, toward myself and everyone.