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Interviews | March 17, 2014

Shawn Donley: IMG Peter Stark: The Powells.com Interview

Peter StarkIt's hard to believe that 200 years ago, the Pacific Northwest was one of the most remote and isolated regions in the world. In 1810, four years... Continue »
  1. $19.59 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

Interviews | March 17, 2014

Shawn Donley: IMG Peter Stark: The Powells.com Interview

Peter StarkIt's hard to believe that 200 years ago, the Pacific Northwest was one of the most remote and isolated regions in the world. In 1810, four years... Continue »
  1. $19.59 Sale Hardcover add to wish list


Powell's Q&A

Ann Patchett (2008)

Describe your latest project.
The book is called What Now? It's a slightly longer version of a graduation speech I gave at Sarah Lawrence in May 2006. An editor read it and suggested making it into a little book. My hope is that it encourages people to be at peace with the many unknown elements of the future. At first I wasn't sure it really qualified as a book (I have long referred to it as a pamphlet) but Chip Kidd designed the whole thing and it turned out beautifully. He contributed an enormous amount to this project.

  1. What Now?
    $7.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    What Now?

    Ann Patchett
    Based on her lauded commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College, this stirring essay by bestselling author Ann Patchett offers hope and inspiration for anyone at a crossroads, whether graduating, changing careers, or transitioning from one life stage to another.
  2. Run: A Novel
    $5.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    Run: A Novel

    Ann Patchett
    "In extraordinarily fluid prose, Patchett unfolds this story to its epiloguelike final chapter as she illuminates issues of race, religion, duty, and desire." Booklist (starred review)
  3. Truth and Beauty: A Friendship
    $3.95 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist
    "A tough and loving tribute, hard to put down, impossible to forget." Kirkus Reviews
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
I can think of a lot of authors people should read. Henry James is always a good one, but I'm always recommending my friend Patrick Ryan. I thought his first book, Send Me, was absolute genius and it never got anywhere near the attention it deserved.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.

"Vanderbank only smiled at her in silence, but Mitchy took it up. 'There's nobody too good for you, of course; only you're not quite, don't you know? in our set. You're in Mrs. Grendon's. I know what you're going to say — that she hasn't got any set, that she's just a loose little white flower dropped on the indifferent bosom of the world. But you're that small sprig of tender green that, added to her, makes her immediately "compose".'"
—Henry James, The Awkward Age (page 91 in Penguin Classics)

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
Last night I finished reading Redmond O'Hanlon's In Trouble Again: A Journey Between the Orinoco and the Amazon. It was fantastic, so funny and smart. I am looking forward to reading his other books about the Congo and Borneo. My friend Donna Tartt recommended it because I'm going to the Amazon this spring and she's a longtime O'Hanlon fan. Another great Amazon pick came from my friend Maile Meloy: she steered me to Evelyn Waugh's Handful of Dust.

Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
The morning I heard on NPR that Eudora Welty died I got in my car and drove to Mississippi to go to the funeral. Her work meant the world to me when I was growing up (it still does). It never occurred to me not to go.

What is your idea of absolute happiness?
The moment I crawl into bed at night with my husband and my dog and a book. I love being home, and that moment of going to bed seems like a perfect celebration of life. Waking up is pretty good, too.

Who's wilder on tour, rock bands or authors?
This can't possibly be a real question. Authors are completely beaten down by tour. We're exhausted, confused, alone. All the musicians I know have a certain amount of fun. For one thing, they travel in large packs. They can eat dinner together. They're out there making art on stage. I have no doubt that they're wilder. The wildest thing I've ever done on book tour is eat an expensive package of M&Ms out of the mini-bar, and I felt guilty about it. I have serious mini-bar issues.

Aside from other writers, name some artists from whom you draw inspiration and talk a little about their work.
Peter Sellars, director of opera, theater, film, music, and all-around artistic genius. I met him recently in Chicago with Renee Fleming (another artist I admire enormously.) Peter was the closest I've ever come to a real-life saint. His vision is enormous and completely dedicated to using art as a means of lifting up humanity. I think we all throw the world genius around these days but this man defines it.

Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.

Five Books I'll Never Get Tired of Looking At

Paul Klee, Philippe Comte, editor.

Lucian Freud. Bruce Bernard and Derek Birdsall, editors.

Francis Bacon, John Rothenstein and Ronald Alley, editors.

Living Room, Nick Waplington, artist.

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, Albertus Sebe, artist.

÷ ÷ ÷

Ann Patchett is the author of five novels: The Patron Saint of Liars, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Taft, which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize; The Magician's Assistant, for which she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship; Bel Canto, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award, England's Orange Prize, the Book Sense Book of the Year Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and most recently, the bestselling Run. It has been translated into thirty languages. Her nonfiction book, Truth and Beauty, was a New York Times bestseller and the winner of a Books for a Better Life Award. Patchett lives in Nashville, Tennessee.


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