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This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

by Ann Patchett

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9936614,410 (4.08)87
Ann Patchett, author of State of Wonder, Run, and Bel Canto, examines her deepest commitments-- to writing, family, friends, dogs, books, and her husband-- creating a resonant portrait of her life.
  1. 10
    On Writing by Stephen King (tandah)
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    Havanas in Camelot: Personal Essays by William Styron (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Though William Styron's prose tends to be bleaker than Ann Patchett's, readers will find both these essay collections absorbing explorations of their personal challenges and their relationships with people, places, and the arts.
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Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
This book was a pure pleasure to read. Ann Patchett calls herself a novelust, a fiction writer, but this book contains some of the best, most polished NON-fiction that I've read in many years. There are close to two dozen pieces here, all complete in themselves, but together they make a lovely memoir, by a woman who decided as a child that she would be a writer. Patchett is one of those rare writers who knows how to laugh at herself, who refuses to take herself too seriously. So she is extremely likeable, an important element in a memoirist. Strangely, most of these essays were freelance pieces done over the course of several years, yet they all hang together beautifully to give us a portrait of the writer as a child and a young woman. I especially loved the final piece, "The Mercies," about her friendship with Sister Nena, who was her reading and writing teacher in grades one through three at St Bernard's Catholic School in Nashville. We learn, to my surprise, that Ann was a slow learner, and only learned to read and write in the third grade, with extra help and prodding from Nena. (Patchett attended 12 years of Catholic school.) And "Dog without End," about her aged canine companion , Rose, broke my heart, of course. Especially after reading the earlier "This Dog's Life," about how she acquired Rose. And there is another heartbreaking essay about the last years of her beloved grandmother. More than one of the pieces give us glimpses of her husband, Karl (a doctor), and the long on-again off-again (eleven years) relationship they endured before marrying, both of them previously married. The title piece anchors the collection. And rightly so. I was struck by her line, "The love between humans is the thing that nails us to this earth." And, a bit later -

"We are, on this earth, so incredibly small, in the history of time, in the crowd of the world, we are practically invisible, not even a dot, and yet we have each other to hold onto."

Yes. I loved this book. I've never read any of her fiction, but I have Bel Canto on my shelf somewhere, so ... This one? Just the best. My highest recommendation.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Jun 28, 2020 |
This was a collection of essays, which I am learning I never enjoy. The first one was enough to make me want to quit the book entirely. The ones on Divorce and her Bookstore were redeeming and I enjoyed those, but the rest just dragged. ( )
  Linyarai | Feb 16, 2020 |
I enjoyed this book. I plan on reading more of her books ( )
  ZelmerWilson | Oct 31, 2019 |
Didn't realize it was a book of short stories. ( )
  SeasideBookClub | Aug 27, 2019 |
Audiobook edition narrated by the author

Although this is a collection of essays from the 1990's to the early 201o's, it serves as a de-facto memoir / autobiography as the selection is based on personally-related stories by the author. The title essay which is an overview of Patchett's marriages and divorces was an Audible Original in 2011 which I recall was a free Audible Gift that year.

I found this to be enormously entertaining, often humorous and heartbreaking in different parts. Patchett provides writing tips, tales of book tours, the story of the founding of her joint-owned bookstore Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, her love of her dog, her friends and her family. If you are not already a fan of her fiction you will likely want to read as much of it as you can get your hands on afterwards. ( )
  alanteder | Sep 27, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
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For Karl
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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.
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Page 160:  Color, while being the most visible thing we can know about a tree, is…created by that part of light that the tree has cast off.  The tree absorbs all the other light waves of color, welcomes them as part of itself; the green we see is the negative, the reflected-off reality it wants no part of.  Where its definition of itself ends, our definition of it is just beginning.
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This is a collection of essays that includes an essay of the same title. Please do not combine the two works.
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Book description
Contents:
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Nonfiction, an introduction
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How to read a Christmas story
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The getaway car : a practical memoir about writing and life
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The sacrament of divorce
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The Paris match
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This dog's life
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The best seat in the house
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My road to Hell was paved
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Tennessee
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On responsibility
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The wall
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Fact vs. fiction
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My life in sales
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"The love between the two women is not normal"
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The right to read
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Do not disturb
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Introduction to "The Best American Short Stories 2006"
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Love sustained
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The bookstore strikes back
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This is the story of a happy marriage
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Our deluge, drop by drop
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Dog without end
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The mercies.
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