Ann Patchett’s COMMONWEALTH (In Percentages)


Early commonwealth individual–or obvious cry for help?

Because Maria Semple stated (in an article I read a few days ago) that she is planning to read Ann Patchett’s new novel, ‘Commonwealth’, I (who had no idea Ann Patchett had a new novel coming out, ‘Bel Canto’ still on my bedside table, ‘State of Wonder’ on my Kindle, albeit ravenously  devoured, if anyone the heck cares) immediately pre-ordered the book (I would be devouring Maria Semple’s–pre-ordered–new novel if it was out yet, let me just be absolutely clear–‘Bernadette’ such a lovely, recurring memory–especially the Alaska section) and as of today and the release of ‘Commonwealth’ I am obsessing on it, struck, once again (since ‘State of Wonder’ and where I left off in ‘Bel Canto’), by the subtle brilliance of AP’s storytelling. I’d refer to AP as a ‘master storyteller’, but AP is beyond that (patriarchal) cliche. She’s–okay, confession: I’m a (matriarchal) soccer (actually karate) mom with a mind noodled from traffic on Victory and Sherman Way, don’t EVER drive in that area 5:45pm-ish, unless your child has just successfully moved to his next martial arts level and is so excited he is hilariously chatty and therefore distracting you from the usual car-wielding lunatics as you employ defensive driving to get you and the precious cargo home.

Ann Patchett’s description of children of divorce growing up with each other in the 70’s (the novel starts earlier than the 70’s, is easily sweeping when it comes to generations) is: rivetingly woven. Ah, well, nice try, PB. Look: I barely had time for my own writing today, which makes me cranky and stubbornly obtuse, unfortunate-stuffs inherited from my not-so-long-ago-deceased father (see previous post).

No one is watching the children. The children grow up learning to govern themselves, ‘Lord of the Flies’-like. They make up their own rules, sometimes–they have to. They survive when they should be dead instead of surviving, sometimes. And that’s as far as I’ve gotten. There’s much more, in the first (Kindle swears it) 31% of the book I’ve completed–but the chapter on the children when they’re all together and just kids in stupid Virginia? Karate Mom says: The author nails it. Maybe I cursed up to the 31% (sometimes audibly, startling those on treadmills near mine at the gym) because the book is a plunger on my past and plungers, though necessary, as you know, can be brutal–unless the plunger brings up the toy your child wedged deep, deep into the toilet. Also, I’d powerwalked about a total of 9.34 miles for that 31% and was a sweaty, exhausted mess, therefore a bit vulnerable to plunger-ridden novels.

I’m going to bed, where I will hopefully read ‘Commonwealth’ to 40% before passing out.

Yours in novels that keep you awake,


About PB Rippey

Writer, wife, mother, grateful. Fiction, memoir, poetry, kidlit (MG), member SCBWI.
This entry was posted in Fiction, Writer quotes, Writing, WTF and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Words do not escape you

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s