Patchett appeared at the end of a month-long book tour for her new novel State of Wonder at the Humanities Tennessee author series Salon@615 at the Nashville Public Library last night. (As an aside, Humanities Tennessee is also the organizer of the incredible Southern Festival of Books, which I write about in the weeks leading up to the Festival each October.) Although the Salon@615 series has been ongoing for much of the spring and summer (they hosted bestselling author Erik Larson in May), I'm not sure they were fully prepared for the volume of people who attended last night's reception and reading.
We were, admittedly, a few minutes late (we had just had dessert at the original Provence in Hillsboro Village, so we weren't anxious to get to the library for the reception portion of the evening). But we had no idea that we would be sitting in overflow! Patchett is very popular across the country (I wrote just last week about the rave reviews she has been getting for State of Wonder), but especially in her native city of Nashville.
|Patchett on the Big Screen in Overflow|
Patchett stated that she had traveled to the Amazon both as research for State of Wonder and as part of an assignment for Gourmet magazine. When the piece never ran, she questioned why and was told that the same boat they traveled on had been taken over by pirates on its next voyage. Thus, the magazine (thankfully) could not in good conscience hype it as a good travel destination for its readers. While there, Patchett met naturalist Greg Greer, who actually wrestled with an anaconda -- much as he does in this YouTube clip:
According to Patchett, Greer will be interviewed on Minneapolis NPR on Friday, and he may have an upcoming television series based on his adventures.
Patchett also discussed her plans for opening independent bookstore Parnassus Books, a partnership between the author and Random House publisher Karen Hayes. The store already has a Facebook page and had an email sign-up sheet last night for those interested in updates. The store will also sell e-books; Patchett told her audience that the publishing world is finally beginning to catch up to the technology its readers crave. She also stated that sales for State of Wonder in paper and e-book have been "neck to neck." According to Patchett, the "Kindle is the Betamax," with many more changes in book-reading technology to come in the future.
Patchett answered audience questions at the end, speaking about various topics:
- On Oprah: "I bow at the altar of Oprah because she got people to read -- Dickens!"
- On authorial thinking: "Anything you think about this book is as right or wrong as whatever I think."
- On young, aspiring authors: "Read. Write because you love it and want to do it -- like the cello. [And] you have to get the junk out -- it's all about volume."
- On her novels: "I can't read my own books [after they are printed]."
Patchett signed copies of State of Wonder after she spoke. She did something smart: she had two lines. An "express" line for those who mainly wanted her signature, and a separate line for people who went to high school with her and "would make [her] cry." I hopped in the express line -- not that I wouldn't have enjoyed a lengthy conversation with Patchett. However, I don't know her, so I don't expect her to spend a lot of time with me! I was happy with hearing her read and listening to her funny stories, then having her sign my copy of State of Wonder.
|Happy Standing in the (Very Fast) Express Line|
|Meeting Ann Patchett|
If you haven't yet picked up a copy of Patchett's latest novel State of Wonder, you really want to do so. I am about fifty pages in, and it is fabulous so far. If you missed her last night, she will be at her last stop on the book tour, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, on Friday night at 5pm.