Known primarily for her novels, Ann Patchett has collected here many of her excellent essays. From acquiring a dog to traveling by RV, Patchett adroitly steers the reader through a smorgasbord of topics. The essay on writing is masterfully written and chock-full of sound advice. Recommended By Mary Jo S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The New York Times
bestselling author of State of Wonder
, and Bel Canto
creates a resonant portrait of a life in this collection of writings on love, friendship, work, and art.
"The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being any kind of artist, is that in addition to making art you also have to make a living."
So begins This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, an examination of the things Ann Patchett is fully committed to — the art and craft of writing, the depths of friendship, an elderly dog, and one spectacular nun. Writing nonfiction, which started off as a means of keeping her insufficiently lucrative fiction afloat, evolved over time to be its own kind of art, the art of telling the truth as opposed to the art of making things up. Bringing her narrative gifts to bear on her own life, Patchett uses insight and compassion to turn very personal experiences into stories that will resonate with every reader.
These essays twine to create both a portrait of life and a philosophy of life. Obstacles that at first appear insurmountable — scaling a six-foot wall in order to join the Los Angeles Police Department, opening an independent bookstore, and sitting down to write a novel — are eventually mastered with quiet tenacity and a sheer force of will. The actual happy marriage, which was the one thing she felt she wasn't capable of, ultimately proves to be a metaphor as well as a fact: Patchett has devoted her life to the people and ideals she loves the most.
An irresistible blend of literature and memoir, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a unique examination of the heart, mind, and soul of one of our most revered and gifted writers.
"A collection of 22 essays (including a couple of commencement addresses) previously published by accomplished novelist and memoirist Patchett (State of Wonder; What Now?; etc.) offer generous glimpses of her rural, divorced Catholic Tennessee background and winding but determined route to becoming a writer ('The Getaway Car'). Writing nonfiction, first for Seventeen and later a host of magazines as her network of editors expanded, was her bread and butter in the early days, and she has an authoritative, straightforward voice in exploring some of the milestones of her life, such as her deep love for her dog, Rose (not to be confused with the desire for a baby), learning from scratch how to love opera in order to write her bestseller Bel Canto, preparing with her ex-cop father's guidance for the grueling L.A. Police Academy exams ('The Wall'), her startling resolve to start up a Nashville bookstore when no other bookstore was left in her hometown, and her painful but merciful segue from divorce to remarriage. The public addresses she made after the publication of Truth & Beauty, a memoir about her friendship with the deeply tortured writer Lucy Grealy, form the most telling and moving selections, especially her compelling speech ('The Right to Read') given to the Clemson University student body in defense of academic and artistic freedom. Early on, her writing teacher Russell Banks had warned Patchett of being too 'polished' and 'just getting by,' urging her to take risks, and certainly many of these selections reveal a candid, evolved self-reflection. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Blending literature and memoir, Ann Patchett, author of State of Wonder, Run,
and Bel Canto,
examines her deepest commitments — to writing, family, friends, dogs, books, and her husband — creating a resonant portrait of a life in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.
This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage takes us into the very real world of Ann Patchett's life. Stretching from her childhood to the present day, from a disastrous early marriage to a later happy one, it covers a multitude of topics, including relationships with family and friends, and charts the hard work and joy of writing, and the unexpected thrill of opening a bookstore.
As she shares stories of the people, places, ideals, and art to which she has remained indelibly committed, Ann Patchett brings into focus the large experiences and small moments that have shaped her as a daughter, wife, and writer.
About the Author
Ann Patchett is the author of six novels and three works of nonfiction. She is the winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, England's Orange Prize, and the Book Sense Book of the Year, and was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She is the co-owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband, Karl, and their dog, Sparky.