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19 December 2011

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Normally I'd say I'm an Ann Patchett fan, but not when it comes to this book. That plot! I mean, seriously. Who could even begin to swallow that plot?

Such a disappointment.

Thanks for saying out loud. I didn't hate it after I finished it, but I certainly wasn't happy with it. The more I've thought about it and talked with others, the more I dislike it. One of my f2f book club members discussed whether it was satire. The book makes more sense to me if it is, but Patchett says no.

Unruly,
Well, on the bright side, I couldn't be too disappointed, because I think Ann Patchett is overrated. I keep hearing about her gorgeous prose but honestly, it doesn't do anything for me. In addition to good writing I'd like at least one interesting character and some semblance of a thought-out plot complete with a believable resolution that takes more than 5 pages. But I keep trying her like a sucker. Fool me multiple times, shame on me!

Melanie,
You're welcome. I don't think it was satire either, I think Patchett was deadly serious. Which is perhaps why I find her deadly dull.

I did not heart Heart of Darkness, and that's the only thing I can remember about it.

You didn't even mention the gnawing on the trees, my "favorite" part of the book by far. I'm so glad you wrote this review CR, I thought I was the only one.

CR Fan,
Yeah, I've just never been that interested in Heart of Darkness. I think I've seen "Apocalypse Now" and thought that probably filled the requirement.

Katharine,
The gnawing of the trees was so far down the ridiculous scale that I didn't really even get there in my list of what to dislike in this book. Didn't it make anyone else nervous how she portrayed the rainforest residents as mainly happy chatty types with women who just wanted to eat bark, stay fertile, and braid the hair of these women scientists who came and lived in their midst? Can't believe no one found that a bit, well, culturally insensitive. To my mind, the nutters in this book were the first-world women who were there studying fertility (even though they didn't seem like the kind of doctors who really care about women and children at all), not the rainforest women who, to quote Patchett's characters, just seemed to want to be hairdressers (or something like that). I'm usually not very PC but I found all that to be somewhat off.

I haven't gotten to this one yet. I like Ann Patchett and Heart of Darkness but dislike most doctors even though my mother is one. I'm now deeply curious to see what I think, though, as love to hate is almost as good a book reaction as love.

YAY! I don't want to read this! Thanks for telling me why I don't want to read this. Whew.

Laura,
I'm sad to hear you dislike most doctors too. Any reasons why? Can your mother provide any insight for why almost all doctors rub me the wrong way?

Yes, I always like to write a negative review, frankly. I've read a lot of books in my life because someone else slammed them and often they turn out to be interesting or reads that I like! I'll want to hear what you think of this one, although aren't you expecting? Due to a scene where something unpleasant happens during a c-section, perhaps you want to wait on this one?

Care,
Yes, don't bother. Plenty of other books in the sea.

You don't need to read "Heart of Darkness." It's a complete waste of time. I'm convinced that the only reason professors make their students read it is because English wasn't Conrad's first language, and that somehow makes him one the greatest Dead White Authors.

I couldn't tell you anything about the book, either. Well, except that it's supposed to be racist. Yeah, okay. So's "Huck Finn." Whatever.

There's something about Pratchett's plots that sounds enticing. When I first heard the plot of "The Dive from Clausen's Pier" I knew I had to read the book. (Since it happens in the first chapter of the book, it's not a spoiler. The main character is about to break off her engagement with her fiancee, but during an outing her jumps off a pier and breaks his back leaving him paralyzed and her with a moral dilemma.) Then the book just wandered around everywhere. I liked it well enough, but I thought the moral dilemma would have been the heart of the story.

Sorry, CR, it's your job to review, but now I want to read State of Wonder just to see how bad it is. It's not bad enough that I want to read good books, but, really, I want to read bad ones, too?

Thanks Brandon,
I had no plans to read Heart of Darkness but it's always nice to be validated. If I want to read Dead White Guys I head straight for John Kenneth Galbraith or Anthony Trollope.

Venta,
Oh, DO read it. I'd like to see what you think. I totally know what you mean about being enticed by bad books. It's a curiosity issue.

If you were intrigued by the Clausen's Pier plot, have you ever tried Rosellen Brown's Tender Mercies? About a woman who is paralyzed in an accident basically caused by her husband. I thought that was a great book, it felt very true about how a couple might survive in the aftermath of something like that. It's an oldie but a goodie.

I love Patchett and I enjoyed this book, yet I found myself agreeing with so much of what you wrote. Maybe I didn't like this one... Having suffered through Heart of Darkness fairly recently (and prior to this Patchett) I would say yes, it is a big old allusion to HOD.

Thomas,
Can you tell me what you like about Patchett? I think I must not notice her good writing, or something, or not care enough to overcome my impatience with her pacing. And I read a ton of very slow nonfiction and fiction--I'm not usually someone who needs a story-driven book. (I usually dislike them, as a matter of fact.)

Good to know about HOD. Maybe she felt literary allusion was the fastest way to fawning critical response, or maybe she really liked HOD?

I haven't read this book yet, but I really liked Bel Canto (except for maybe the unnecessary epilogue). I thought it was kind of magical, the way everyone in the house seemed to be under some sort of spell until it was brutally shattered. So I would like to read more Patchett at some point, maybe I just won't start with this one :).

This is my first Patchett and I actually liked it better than I thought I would since this is not my genre at all. But I hated the ending, and that it was too rush. Easter was my fav character. I don't have doctor issues though since I do work in health care (not a doc) and have worked with some very nice docs... here's my review if you are interested: http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/2011/06/book-review-state-of-wonder-novel-by.html

Ruthiella,
Well, I listed to Bel Canto on tape, so maybe I just wasn't getting the experience of reading the prose. Or maybe I just don't get Patchett; that's entirely possible. Lots of literary authors leave me cold.

Christa,
Thanks for the link to your review! I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought that ending was too rushed, though.
I'm also glad you've worked with some nice docs. I know doctors are just like anybody else, there's nice ones and not-so-nice ones. But most of the ones I've met do really carry around the air of always knowing best. And that's a trait that really sets my teeth on edge.

Interesting. My reading netrpar and I were discussing Patchett tonight, talking about this new book, wondering if we should put it on our 18-mile long list of books to read. We really liked Bel Canto, but did not like her other book called Run, nor the other one, The Magician's Assistant.Ann Patchett is two days older than me. Hmmm is she single?Thank you for your great review.

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