The other day, I went to hear Ann Patchett speak about her latest novel, Tom Lake. Ann was in conversation with Cheryl Strayed, another generous and supportive author. What a fun evening! For one thing, my girlfriends and I made a night of it with a dinner out beforehand. I wasn't quite finished with the book at the time of the reading - mere pages to go. But I later found how much was in those pages - a very satisfying end to a satisfying story.
It is the early months of covid19. While working the cherry farm with her three daughters (who moved home because of the pandemic), Lara tells the story of how she came to be dating a man who would become the most famous actor of her generation. She'd played the part of Emily in Our Town while in high school, went on to play the part in college, was discovered, and eventually spends a summer performing the part, at Tom Lake in Michigan. This is where Lara dated Peter Duke, back when she was the age her daughters are now.
There was much I could relate to in the book, and I love the way Ann writes. I had to restrain myself from quoting full pages. Beautifully crafted.
Page 23: Nineteen eighty-four was nothing like what Orwell had envisioned and still it was a world nearly impossible to explain.
Page 25: "You can't pretend this isn't happening," Maisie said. I couldn't, and I don't. Nor do I pretend that all of us being together doesn't fill me with joy. I understand that joy is inappropriate these days and still, we feel what we feel.
Page 33: When I asked what was wrong she said nothing in the same voice one would say go fuck yourself.
Page 152: I drop beneath the surface and open my eyes. It's as if someone bought up all the diamonds at Tiffany's and crushed them into dust, then spread that dust across the water so that it sifts down evenly, filtering through the shards of light that cut into the depth.
Page 253: The rage dissipates along with the love, and all we're left with is a story.