Archive for March, 2012

Mid-book report: Ann Patchett, State of Wonder

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

I’m a bit more than halfway through Ann Patchett’s  State of Wonder (2011).  So far, I’m enjoying it.  More, I would say, than I enjoyed Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot at the middle.

Parading my prejudices: I remember Patchett’s Bel Canto kept me going up until near the end where it fell apart.  I’m worrying that Patchett is a good story teller, but not a good story ender, so I’m bracing for disappointment at the end.  But I’m having a hard time putting it down at the moment.

I’ll let you know how it comes out.

On Finishing Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

I don’t agree with Emperor Joseph II that Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro had “too many notes,”  but I do think that Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot had too many words.  The extra words aren’t evenly distributed.  They seem to have piled up in the middle third of the book: starting with the initial descriptions of Leonard’s manic depressive psychosis and continuing through the strangely unmoving descriptions of Mitchell’s experiences as a volunteer in Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in India.  I just didn’t care.

I enjoyed the last 80 or so pages (the last 20% of the book)–the two final chapters in which 1) Leonard and Madeleine get married, honeymoon, and melt down; and 2) Madeleine and Mitchell do the right thing and don’t even think about getting married after all.  Thank goodness for small favors.  I couldn’t have dealt with an ending that saddled Madeleine with Mitchell.   Eeeeeew.

The actual ending–the author’s summing up of the plot through Madeleine and Mitchell’s final conversation–is a bit much, although it is pleasantly self-referential.  It didn’t make me smile, exactly, but the corners of my mouth did turn up a little bit.