Ann Patchett may be best known to many for her award-winning novels — like Bel Canto and State of Wonder — or her non-fiction work, Truth & Beauty. But now Patchett brings something new to bookstore shelves: a collection of essays called This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. It’s made up of articles she’s written for the likes of Atlantic Monthly, Vogue and Outside.
In it, she shares her thoughts on writing:
Novel writing, I soon discovered, is like channel swimming: a slow and steady stroke over a long distance in a cold, dark sea. If I thought too much about how far I’d come or the distance I still had to cover, I’d sink.
I do not believe that there were more happy marriages before divorce became socially acceptable, that people tried harder, got through their rough times and were better off. I believe that more people suffered.
On the negative reaction in one college town to her memoir Truth & Beauty:
Maybe what’s upsetting about my book is that it’s true. So let’s make a pact not to read any nonfiction that could be upsetting. If stories about girls who are disfigured by cancer and humiliated by strangers, and turn to sex and drugs to escape from their enormous pain are too disgusting and pornographic, then I have to tell you the Holocaust is off-limits. The Russian Revolution, the killing fields of Cambodia, the war in Vietnam, the Crusades, all represent such staggering acts of human depravity and perversion I could see the virtue of never looking at them at all.
And much more.
Are you a fan of Patchett’s work? What would you like to ask her?
- Ann Patchett: Author of numerous books including This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage
Editor’s Note: This show was recorded on Wednesday, November 20th at Literary Arts in downtown Portland. Here are some photos from the event: