Monday, September 21, 2009

(Audiobook) Review: What Now, by Ann Patchett

While I'm generally not a fan of the "for the recent graduate" genre of nonfiction, Ann Patchett's What Now? is different in that it does not read like Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul XXXXVI. Granted, I may have a slightly different perspective as I listened to it in audiobook form vs. actually reading it, but the speech which Patchett gave to the Class of 2006 at Sarah Lawrence spoke to me in a way few other "for the recent graduate" books have.

Perhaps it is because Patchett is a novelist and ties her theories on life closely to the idea of crafting a novel. (The theme of "what next?" applies to both fields very neatly.) In addition, Patchett gives none of the platitudes that seem so prevalent in commencement speeches. She does not say, "You've done it!" or "You're finally ready to go out and change the world!" Instead, she tells the story of how she worked as a waitress after earning her MFA. (Those of you who have discovered that job satisfaction is a luxury may appreciate her final point of continuing to dream despite working in a field that is less than fulfilling.)

From a more media-based perspective, I would highly suggest listening to the audio version of the book as the reader has a beautiful voice and the entire recording is only about an hour long.

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