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In Anne Lamott's new collection, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, she writes about how Jesus Christ came into her life and what that experience means. Now, when people start talking about such things, I have the inclination to find a polite exit. (Oh look, my bus!) But just as Lamott's generous, vulnerable, appealing personality comes through in her Salon column when she writes about her former life of drugs, drinking and eating disorders -- further subject matter that I'd sooner leave behind at the bus stop -- her descriptions of the struggles and pleasures of a religious life contain her wholly unique and compelling perspective. For example, she compares the presence of Jesus -- before her conversion -- to a stray cat: "You let a cat in one time, give it a little milk, and then it stays forever." Not exactly the kind of thing to knock you off your donkey on the road to Damascus, but appropriate for Lamott's way of chronicling revelatory experience through everyday images. Lamott reads from her new book at the First Unitarian Church, 5007 Waterman at Kingshighway in the Central West End, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 2. Her appearance is sponsored by Left Bank Books. Call 367-6731 for information.

-- Eddie Silva

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