Then the copy of The Magician’s Assistant I had requested from the library arrived so I figured this was as good a time as any to take the next step in my Ann Patchett read-‘em-all project. Her books also are easy-entry – you’re pulled right in and along, at least I am – and enjoyable reading. First of all, she’s a very good storyteller. I know I say plot is overrated, but good storytelling is important and a valuable skill that I greatly respect (and don’t yet know if I have) and not to be underestimated in my snobby search for what I deem to be “literary.”
I do think Patchett also writes beautifully, uses words beautifully. Her books have long passages that are woven in between the story elements where she explores a particular idea and I never resent these forays, never feel like they’re taking me away from the story like I do with some books. These pieces always feel seamlessly integrated and interesting and beautifully-expressed and I’m always right there with her for as long as she goes on any particular journey or tangent. There’s one in this book while the main character, Sabine (the magician’s assistant) is driving from one place to another and Patchett does this page-plus riff on why Sabine loves living in Los Angeles, and it’s just a beautiful tribute to the city and so well-expressed. (There are more but now I can’t find them. I usually mark up my books but I’m reading a library copy and I didn’t want to make too much of a mess of it. Should have kept some Post-its nearby!)
There’s another quote in the book I love where one character, a woman in her 40s who is the mother of two sons (like me), is discussing how her mother worries about her. It’s a comment that rings very true for me!
“She worries about me too much, though. I don’t like that. I have to worry about the boys and worry about myself, and then I have to worry about the fact that I make my mother worry. Wears me out.”
And another line from the book that perfectly describes how my mind works (and why I’m so stressed!):
“Sabine made lists, things to buy, things to make, things to practice. All day long the list propelled her forward. When she went to bed at night her mind would reel through all she had forgotten, all the things there hadn’t been time for.”
More to come once I’ve finished The Magician’s Assistant!