Study Guide

Pammy and Other Friends in Bird by Bird

By Anne Lamott

Pammy and Other Friends

If Lamott's family gives her a reason to write, so do her friends. Her friend Pammy gets a special mention: like Lamott's dad, Pammy tragically dies young, and as she did with her dad, Lamott finds herself writing a book about Pammy. Because their friendship has partly involved Pammy helping Lamott figure out how to parent Sam, the memoir Anne writes for Pammy weaves together the story of their friendship and the story of Sam's early childhood (25.6-9).

Pammy is one example of something that seems to be true throughout Bird by Bird. For Lamott, writing is about a community of people she cares for, not about being a solitary genius writer type.

That's because Anne Lamott's idea of the writing life is more ensemble film than star vehicle. Sure, she tells us about herself and her life, but that life is one shaped by friends and family and writing students and random strangers that she meets. For her, writing is about life in a community just as much as it's about the individual writer.

Bird by Bird is full of characters who appear once or turn up now and again, whether it's students from Lamott's writing classes, people from her church, or friends from other settings. When these characters appear, it's a great reminder that Lamott's vision of writing is not just about giving an honest take on your own life, but also about sharing something with others.

With a little snark to keep things funny.