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Anne Lamott’s writing is funny, ironic, and self-deprecating. Author of the bestselling Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year (New York: Pantheon, 1993) as well as five other novels, Lamott writes about everyday relationships, grief, and the redemption to be found in self-scrutiny and humor. “Word by Word,” her weekly Web column, appears in Salon. Mother Jones asked Lamott what she’d been reading and watching lately. Here’s her take on the movie adaption of Roald Dahl’s well-known children’s novel, James and the Giant Peach:

“I went to see James and the Giant Peach with my roommate. He’s 6-and-a-half years old; I call him my heir. The movie has insight into all of our souls. A lonely kid finds companionship with these odd, eccentric insects. (Susan Sarandon plays the spider with this Greta Garbo accent. She’s so good it makes you want to drown yourself in a toilet without hurting your head.) It reminded me of movies we used to take acid to watch–it’s that stunning visually. Plus the bad guys lose and good guys come together at the end–you can’t beat that.”

Also recommended by Lamott:

First Comes Love, by Marion Winik (New York: Pantheon, 1996), is the memoir of an NPR commentator, her marriage to a gay man who eventually dies of AIDS, and their family. “The storyÉis really about survival,” Lamott says. “It’s very black, and hopeful.”

In Medieval in L.A. (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1996), author Jim Paul tells the story of one man’s weekend trip to Los Angeles. “It’s brilliant,” Lamott says. “Paul is a cross between Nicholson Baker and John McPhee. He writes about minutiae and moments, and sheds light on the bigger issues of love and community.”

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