A visit to Parnassus Books

Let me now tell you about my visit to Parnassus Books, the store owned by Ann Patchett who wrote “State of Wonder,” a book that is mostly brilliant but pretty scary once you get about halfway through Chapter 8.

Parnassus is in Nashville, which is in Tennessee, which is somewhere I probably can’t find on a map but which Southwest Airlines can find, so all worked out well, especially given that Nashville International Airport features live jazz bands throughout the terminal and a Yazoo beer cart that sells pretty expensive beer in go-cups so you can wander around drinking beer and listening to jazz.

But that only relates to Parnassus Books and Ann Patchett, because I had to get to Nashville before I could get to Parnassus Books.

Chapter 8 is not for the snake-squeemish like me but I read it anyway and was determined that when I got to Parnassus, I would meet Ann Pachett and get her to autograph the first page of that chapter. Naturally I was assuming she’d be there; she must have known I was coming because, after all, the world revolves around narcissistic me.

But she wasn’t.

I found that out by approaching a Parnassus employee and asking him if Ms. Patchett were there and he said no and I explained about wanting an autographed book and he said that all of her books for sale at Parnassus were autographed but I said that might be true but I had a special request and he said no problem that all I had to do was buy a book, fill out a form, pay a little extra for shipping and Ms. Patchett would fulfill my request.

I did. And she did.

About a week after I got home from Nashville, the book arrived and I opened to chapter 8 and, bingo, there was Ann Patchett’s autograph and the date. Cool.

I will now quote a bit from chapter 8 so if you are a little freaky about snakes, you might want to skip this part and go on to whatever exciting part comes after, although I don’t know what that might be because I haven’t written it yet and as is generally the case, I have no clue about what to write because right now I’m swinging with Ann Patchett, “State of Wonder,” and chapter 8.

It begins with a young man, Benoit, reaching from a small boat, carrying several other people, into the river to grab the anaconda.

“He rolled onto his side and then his back, managing somehow to pull the first half of the reptile on board while it flailed like a downed electrical wire. At its neck the snake was as big around as Benoit’s wrist and from there its body, smooth scales of darkest green with black blotches on the back and then creamy light underneath, swelled into a size more in keeping with his thigh … He had caught it sure enough but he hadn’t caught it close enough to the head.”

Well, you can either now use your rather vivid imagination or, much better, read the book. Great book. It’s the first of her novel’s I’ve read. Must try “Bel Canto,” I think.

Also, might like Meg Wolitzer’s “The Female Pursuasion,” the first of her novels I’ve read. It’s good, and timely.

Here’s a piece of it I liked, how Greer, the primary character, reacted when she was offered a job with Faith Frank:

“Greer could barely stay seated as Faith described the specifics of the job to her. She wanted to crouch down on the floor like a weight lifter and raise the long which length of sofa into the air with Faith Frank still on it, just to show her that she could.”

Notice, in Patchett’s and Wolitzer’s excerpts the absence of unnecessary commas.

Well, those are our recommendations for this period. Oh, except I just recommended to Maggie at Hampshire Hills “The Old Maid” by Edith Wharton after a discussion where neither of us could remember who wrote “Ethan Frome.” Guess.

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