Interview with Ann Patchett

The famous Powells Books in Portland, OR runs a regular interview series. A recent interview with Ann Patchett about her newest novel, State of Wonder, is attached here. You might also be interested in an earlier Powells interview with her about Bel Canto; it’s an awfully smart conversation, and includes the following wonderful description of what “plot” is:

“I was very influenced by The Magic Mountain,” Patchett says. “It’s a book that had a huge impact on me. I loved that as a shape for a novel: put a bunch of people in a beautiful place, give them all tuberculosis, make them all stay in a fur sleeping bag for several years and see what happens.

Probably the single thing that had the biggest artistic influence on me was The Poseidon Adventure. That was the first time I saw something that made me think, Oh, that’s what plot is: you’re going along, it’s fine, then everything turns upside down; people band together, sacrifices are made, there’s passion, there’s loss, there’s a journey, and at the end you cut a hole in the boat and you come out into the light. That’s what this book is, in a sense, except for the part about coming out into the light.

I’ve written an homage to The Poseidon Adventure! Someone had to do it.”



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