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Far and away, one of my favorite authors is Ann Patchett.
If you haven’t caught me fan-girling about her on my blog before, let me just quickly give you some highlights. Ann Patchett is the author of several best-sellers, including Bel Canto and State of Wonder: A Novel. She is also the owner of Parnassus Books, a local bookstore here in Nashville.
I’ve seen her a few times, though have never worked up the nerve to say “hello”. Not because it’s so intimidating to say “hello” so much as it is worrisome that I might accidentally say, “oh my gosh I love you so much, you’re brilliant, you’re beautiful, is it too much to ask that we be buried beside one another when we die?”
So I just refrain from saying “hello”. For everyone’s sake.
One of the many reasons I admire Patchett’s work so much is because it’s so real. Not in the sense that you’d find yourself in the Amazon searching for a lost colleague (State of Wonder), but in that her novels never end with you having all the answers. You’re always left with a few questions dangling…what ever happened to her? To them? Did they stay together? Get together?
I know that for many readers that can really be frustrating; to get to the end of a novel and not have all your questions answered. But I personally love it, because that is real life. Life is a constant, fluid cycle, and all of our stories are not starting and ending at the same time. If we took a snapshot of our lives, we’d be dipping in and out of several narratives. That’s what her novels are like; you step in and out of a narrative, so naturally, you won’t know how it all turns out in the future, because just the story you stepped into is done.
So, imagine my delight when a few months ago, out of the blue, in the mail I receive a copy of This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, from my friend, Katie, who lives in another state. It is Patchett’s most recent publication, and is a collection of non-fiction essays she’d published over the years.
What I loved most about this book, aside from Patchett’s beautiful prose, was that my dear friend read this book, and thought of me, and went to the trouble to order me a copy. I’m not surprised she would do something like that, because she’s incredibly thoughtful and generous.But to be on the receiving end is quit humbling.
This book really is excellent. I would recommend it to both men and women. If you don’t care for Patchett’s opinions (which, keep in mind, is at times part of what makes great writing great…I love the woman and we are fundamentally opposite), you can’t help but appreciate her talent.
What I’d recommend even more, however, is keeping in mind how delightful it is to let someone know that you thought of them. I was blown away at receiving this book as an “out of the blue, I simply thought of you” gift.
The holidays are just about upon us now, and I hope that you’ll take the time this year to let those close to you know that you’re thinking of them. You might be surprised at the difference that you can make.