14 June 2014

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Summary from Goodreads:
The New York Times bestselling author of State of Wonder, Run, 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.

Ann Patchett isn't an author I gravitate to.  It took two tries for me to get through Bel Canto (ultimately, I loved it) and I don't think I would have picked up State of Wonder if it hadn't been a BNBC Literature by Women pick.  For whatever reason, her subjects or blurbs don't catch my eye.  However, she is a fantastic putter-together of sentences.  When I kept getting recs for her essay collection This is the Story of a Happy Marriage I decided I'd give it a try. 

This is an excellent book of essays with subjects ranging from her childhood to her second marriage (that first marriage - whoa, weirdness).  My favorite essay dealt with the zoo surrounding Clemson's selection of her first memoir, Truth and Beauty as an all-freshman read (because wow, we shouldn't introduce college freshmen to adult concepts ever) and it including the convocation address she gave that fall.  Patchett has a good style, glad I picked this up.

Dear FTC: I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.

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