Hard Laughter Summary & Study Guide

Anne Lamott
This Study Guide consists of approximately 33 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Hard Laughter.
This section contains 430 words
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Hard Laughter Summary & Study Guide Description

Hard Laughter Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Hard Laughter by Anne Lamott.

Jen is living a sloppy, Bohemian life in a small town in California, enjoying her friends, and writing. Her family is very worried when they find out that Jen's father, Wallace, has a brain tumor.

Jen lives in Clement, a tiny town in southern California, in the late 1970's. Clement is filled with the dregs of the free-love movement—a variety of old hippies, burn outs, shamans, holistic healers, and crazy weirdos. Jen fits into the last category, living in squalor in a cabin, cleaning houses three days a week, and writing. She has never yet been published, but her father is a writer, which inspires her. She loves spending time with her strange friends and drinking and doing drugs. One day, Jen's father tells her that he has a brain tumor in the language center of his brain. The first noticeable symptom is that he has trouble finding the right word for what he wants to say.

Wallace, Jen's father, goes in for brain surgery to remove his tumor. The doctor thinks they have gotten the entire tumor, but recommends two weeks of radiation therapy to follow up. The whole experience is harrowing for the entire family. Jen gets a lot closer to her two brothers and tries to deal with the confusing circumstances. Although Wallace is holding up like a trooper, Jen is not doing so well and exhibits symptoms of mental illness. Her friends tell her that this is normal when going through a crisis like this. Everyone feels bad for Wallace, especially because he is such a nice person, known for his generosity.

As the days go by, Wallace gets healthier, and it appears he will live after all. Jen and the others try to pick up their lives again and act like everything is normal. It is hard because they are all so confused and have no proof that the tumor is not going to come back. Jen thinks of all the people who deserve to get a brain tumor instead of Wallace. She tries to go back to work, and even Wallace starts writing again. One day, Wallace starts hiccuping and can not stop, even after many hours. The entire family is worried that this means that the tumor is back and that they are all going to have to go through it again. The doctor relieves their fears, saying that hiccups are a side effect of the radiation. They all try to relax and be thankful for their blessings, now that they have felt the specter of death.

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This section contains 430 words
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