Ann Patchett: “I couldn’t remember when I had read such a perfect novel.”

From an essay by author Ann Patchett in The New York Times Book Review titled “Why We Need Life-Changing Books Right Now”:

Here’s how it happened: In early November 2018, Kate DiCamillo came to Nashville while she was on tour for her novel “Louisiana’s Way Home.” It’s the middle book of a trilogy that started with “Raymie Nightingale” and ended last year with “Beverly, Right Here.”

Kate and I had crossed paths a few times over the years and had a kind of, “Hey, hi, how are you?” relationship, which is to say we had met but didn’t know each other. She was doing her event for “Louisiana’s Way Home” at an elementary school. . . .

Kate and her publicist and I sat in tiny chairs at a tiny table in the school library. . . .Then Kate gave a talk in an auditorium packed with kids and their parents. I hadn’t meant to stay but then I did. She talked about her mother’s vacuum cleaner. She was great.

That would have been the end of the story, were it not for the fact that the very next day I got an email from Nell Freudenberger, a terrific novelist whose books I love. Nell asked me if I knew Kate DiCamillo.

“Strange you should ask,” I said. “We had lunch yesterday.”

Nell went on to tell me that she had just finished reading “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” to her son, and that it had cracked them open and made them better people. “You have to tell her that for me,” Nell said. “Will you do that?”. . .

That night I read “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” and, well, it changed my life. “I couldn’t remember when I had read such a perfect novel.” I didn’t care what age it was written for. The book defied categorization. I felt as if I had just stepped through a magic portal, and all I had to do to pass through was believe that I wasn’t too big to fit. . . .

And so I started to read more of Kate’s books, until in the end I had read every single one of them. There are a lot, but most have pictures. It was one of the most satisfying literary adventures of my life. . . .Not only are the books beautifully written, the stories have gorgeous arcs. They twist in ways you never see coming and do not shy away from despair or joy or strangeness. They are, each one, sui generis, each one extraordinary.


  1. Bill Grover says

    Thanks Jack,
    I will try reading her.

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