Ann Patchett may be best known for novels such as Bel Canto and State of Wonder, but I love her essays. In This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, she goes back to her roots. Not finding time to write as a teacher or a waitress, Patchett wrote articles for magazines so she could make the time to write fiction, her true love. Writing is just one of the topics she covers in this fascinating collection.
In fact, anyone interested in writing could do worse than to pick up this book. In "Nonfiction, an Introduction", and in "The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life", Patchett talks about her path to writing fiction, and includes some suggestions to help other aspiring authors. Like so many before her, Patchett insists people must make the time to write.
The author who says she enjoys making things up as a fiction writer acknowledges that her fiction is not about her. But, these essays are about her life, her parents' divorce, her writing, her own marriages, including the change that brought her into a second marriage. That title article is a fascinating story. But, I wouldn't be the reader I am if I didn't say my favorite essay was "The Bookstore Strikes Back". Even though I had read that essay before in Atlantic Monthly, it's still interesting to read Patchett's account of how she came to own Parnassus Books, the independent bookstore in Nashville.
If you're a fan of Ann Patchett's fiction, you might want to pick up this book to get to know her better. If you're interested in essays by authors, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a gem.
Ann Patchett's website is www.annpatchett.com, The Twitter account for the bookstore is @ParnassusBooks1.
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett. HarperCollins. 2013. ISBN 9780062236678 (hardcover), 320p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received a copy in order to participate in the blog tour.