Being “The People’s Author” (And Loving It)

Anne Lamott embraces her reputation as a popular novelist, but admits that she sometimes gets caught up in the pretentious side of her profession.
  • Transcript


Question: Do you like that you're known as “The People’s Author?"

Anne Lamott: I can honestly say there is nothing I would rather be known as than “The People’s Author.”  I’ve never heard that, and I’m thinking you got it from some blog from some guy who is like completely wasted on ecstasy and cheap red wine when he said it.  But if it were true, I would love that. 

And, being a person who believes that all truth is paradox and contradiction, I just get a sucked in as any writer into the jungle drums of publication and wishing that I were on the “Today” Show this morning instead of David Remnick and how it’s not fair and how it’s not fair that he’s not this and that and he’s on “Fresh Air” and so I have a kind of bitterness that goes along with this sense of being “The People’s Author,” and really feeling like a missionary most of the time and just wanting to tell people... the truth of my experience is that we are all a lot more alike than we are different. And that if I share something that seems kind of intimate, or autobiographical, it’s because I assume it’s true for you too.  And I’ve told it so many times and everybody said, “Oh yeah, me too.”  I’m not telling anything that isn’t true for most of us.  And it just has to do with it.  We can seem sort of spiritual and hippy-dippy like I think I come across, and tree hugger and San Francisco and all that.  And at the same time be sort of enraged that the New York glitterati are getting the great spots in the media the week that I’m on tour on the East Coast. 

Question: Do you consciously try to win more fans?

Anne Lamott: I would say the most important thing is to pretend that you’re above all of that.  But certainly, I’m just finding this week—we’re taping this the day of publication—and I’m finding just so much manipulation and kind of desperado stuff going on inside me, and I’m trying to suck people into my web, and I’m trying to use old contacts kind of in the most casual way to try to get them to shoehorn me onto CNN maybe later today after I sign stock at the Riverhead office.  So, I find a lot inside me. 

The thing is, I’ll be 56 at the end of the week and I don’t act on it as much as I used to.  Before, I would have done it all and I would have just been dancing as fast as I could to try to suck in and please everyone and seduce everyone and push everyone harder to get—and now I just feel too tired, and I’m kind of achy from the long flight and so, the impulse is there, and probably this side of the grave.  It just comes with the territory; it comes with the turf of being a well-known writer is that I have a disease called "More."  And if I have a huge audience, I’d like a bigger audience; maybe slightly a slightly more illustrious audience.  Maybe if Susan Sontag were alive she would want to be my best friend.

Recorded April 6, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen