Monday, May 19, 2014

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

Spoiler-free summary:
This is a collection of Ann Patchett's nonfiction essays. For many years, Ann worked as a freelance writer to supplement her income from fiction and teaching. The pieces contained in this volume offer sound career advice, Ann's musings on pets, a few provocative convocation talks she gave at colleges, her down-to-earth ideas on love, and her priceless thoughts on writing. This collection is a must-read for any Ann Patchett fan or aspiring writer.

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I feel kind of bad because I've never read Ann Patchett's fiction. After having read this collection, I fully intend to, but I probably don't have the same interest in or connection to Patchett as many readers of this book did, so forgive me for my lack of zealousness. I liked this collection, but I'm sure it would have meant more to me if I was already a fan.

This collection surprised me. Patchett is direct and confident. She's unapologetic. I had no idea what kind of lady she was before picking up this book, but now I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on her personality. I don't think we'd get along, but I like her anyhow. For some reason I thought she'd be sappier? Maybe it's the title of the book that made me think this, but I was continually shocked by her callousness - refusing to marry the man she loved, cheating on her ex-husband, taking a puppy from a blind girl - the list goes on. But I'm so incredibly glad she included all of this and that she did not philosophize for pages about all of her misdoings because it made her real. I can relate to her in that I, too, do horrible things - we just go about it differently. Ann Patchett is "real" and takes pride in being "real." I can get behind this.

A few favorites included the story on her application to the LAPD, the piece detailing the moment she realized she could leave her ex-husband, and all of the little tales about her dog.

Buy This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage in hardcover, paperback, audiobook, and eBook format from Parnassus Books today.
(I usually route people to Amazon, but Parnassus Books is the independent bookstore Patchett helps run. There's a story about its unlikely inception in this collection).

Photo: Harper

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