Ann Patchett will be appearing at the Central Library's Montgomery Auditorium on Wednesday, October 3, at 8:00 p.m. Click here for ticket info. She recently took a moment to chat with us about some of our favorite topics.
What role have libraries played in your life?
Going to the library was the center of my social life when I was young. I went there with friends to study and we all felt terribly grown up. I think it was the first place I was allowed to be out on my own for extended periods of time. After we’d done our work, or sometimes before we’d done our work, we’d do incredibly reckless things like read books on witchcraft and look at the free puppies on the community bulletin board and make Xerox copies of our hands. I had a very tame childhood.
What was your favorite childhood book?
Charlotte’s Web .
What made you think you could be a writer?
I never actually thought about doing anything else. I had one good idea early on--be a writer--and I stuck with it.
Who are the three authors you think everyone should be required to read--which books would you start with?
Shakespeare is always the best bet for a writer who will work for everyone--Richard III for history, Othello for tragedy and Much Ado About Nothing for comedy (though it is hard to make a bad choice). Chekhov is very universal, consistently perfect; any of the stories and plays would be good--“Lady with Lapdog,” “The Kiss,” “Concerning Love.” I’ll put Yeats in the third spot because everyone needs to read more poetry, myself included. If you want me to recommend three wonderful books you otherwise might miss: The Collected Stories of Grace Paley, So Long, See You Tomorrow, by William Maxwell, and Endless Love , Scott Spencer.
If you couldn’t write, what other job would you like to have?
I’d like to make dioramas . I would be very happy spending the rest of my life constructing tiny trees.