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State of Wonder LP: A Novel

Patchett, Ann Author

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"Expect miracles when you read Ann Patchett's fiction."—New York Times Book Review

Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Ann Patchett returns with a provocative and assured novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest. Infusing the narrative with the same ingenuity and emotional urgency that pervaded her acclaimed previous novels Bel Canto, Taft, Run, The Magician's Assistant, and The Patron Saint of Liars, Patchett delivers an enthrallingly innovative tale of aspiration, exploration, and attachment in State of Wonder—a gripping adventure story and a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love.

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Review:

Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2011: In State of Wonder, pharmaceutical researcher Dr. Marina Singh sets off into the Amazon jungle to find the remains and effects of a colleague who recently died under somewhat mysterious circumstances. But first she must locate Dr. Anneck Swenson, a renowned gynecologist who has spent years looking at the reproductive habits of a local tribe where women can conceive well into their middle ages and beyond. Eccentric and notoriously tough, Swenson is paid to find the key to this longstanding childbearing ability by the same company for which Dr. Singh works. Yet that isn’t their only connection: both have an overlapping professional past that Dr. Singh has long tried to forget. In finding her former mentor, Dr. Singh must face her own disappointments and regrets, along with the jungle’s unforgiving humidity and insects, making State of Wonder a multi-layered atmospheric novel that is hard to put down. Indeed, Patchett solidifies her well-deserved place as one of today’s master storytellers. Emotional, vivid, and a work of literature that will surely resonate with readers in the weeks and months to come, State of Wonder truly is a thing of beauty and mystery, much like the Amazon jungle itself. --Jessica Schein


Amazon Exclusive: Elizabeth Gilbert Interviews Ann Patchett

Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Eat, Pray, Love, as well as the short story collection Pilgrims—a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and winner of the 1999 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, she works as writer-at-large for GQ.

Elizabeth Gilbert: As your close personal friend, I happen to know that you traveled to the Amazon to conduct research for this novel, and that you sort of hated the Amazon--can you share a little about that?

Ann Patchett: I absolutely loved the Amazon for four days. It was gorgeous and unfamiliar and deeply fascinating. Unfortunately, I stayed there for ten days. There are a lot of insects in the Amazon, a lot of mud, surprisingly few vegetables, too many snakes. You can’t go anywhere by yourself, which makes sense if you don’t know the terrain, but I enjoy going places by myself. I can see how great it would be for a very short visit, and how great it would be if you lived there and had figured out what was and wasn’t going to kill you, but the interim length of time isn’t great.

EG: Didn't I hear that you have a sort of magical story about a friend who is also a writer, who was also once going to write a book about the Amazon? Can you share this miraculous tale? Also, is your writer friend pretty?

AP: This friend of mine, who happens to be you, is gorgeous, and much taller in real life. Yes, you were writing a novel about the Amazon, and then you decided not to write a novel about the Amazon, and then I started writing a novel about the Amazon, and later when we compared notes (your book dismissed, mine halfway finished) they had remarkably similar story lines, to the point of being eerie. I thought this must be because it was an incredibly banal idea and we had both come up with a generic Amazon novel, but then you told me that ideas fly around looking for homes, and when the idea hadn’t worked out with you it came to me. If this is true I think your name should be on the cover. It would increase sales significantly.

EG: Readers of your prior work--particularly the luminous Bel Canto--will be delighted to see that opera makes an appearance in this novel, as well. In fact, one of the most dramatic scenes in the book takes place at the opera. Is that a wink and a nod to loyal readers, or just an expression of your own deep and abiding musical passions?

AP: It’s a wink and a nod to Werner Herzog and his brilliant Amazon film “Fitzcarraldo” which opens at the opera house in Manaus where the aforementioned scene takes place. I had very little experience with opera when I wrote Bel Canto, and since then it’s become a huge part of my life. It was fun to write a scene set at the opera now that I know what I’m talking about.

EG: State of Wonder a rollicking adventure story, full of peril and bravery and death-defying action. I personally know you to be a homebody who likes to bake muffins for neighbors. How the heck did you pull off this wildness so convincingly? Was it as invigorating to write as it is to read?

AP: Ah, the life of the mind. All the adventure I need I can dream up in my kitchen. I love writing outside of my own experience, making imaginary worlds. If I wrote novels based on my own life I would not be making a living at this. I also love to write a strong plot. I want things to happen in my books, I want to be thrilled. I always think about Raymond Chandler. I’m sure I’m getting the phrasing wrong but the general idea is that when things get slow, bring in a man with a gun. If you can’t find a gun, a poison arrow works just as well.

EG: The cover is a work of beauty. Authors are not always so lucky. Tell us how you managed such a miracle?

AP: When I first started writing this book, I came downstairs one night and found my husband listening to “Horowitz at Carnegie Hall”. The album cover has a very lush filigreed border. I had two thoughts: first, I have an amazing husband who thankfully held onto his Horowitz LPs; second, that the album cover had the exact the feeling I wanted for my book--half jungle, half Baroque period. When I was finished writing the novel I sent the album to my editor, who sent it to the art department. They understood exactly what I was talking about.

From the Back Cover:

Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to the Amazon to find her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have disappeared while working on a new drug. No one knows where Dr. Swenson is, and the last person sent to find her died before completing his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey in hopes of finding answers.

Now in her seventies, the uncompromising Dr. Swenson dominates her research team and the natives with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices are those Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she is still unable to live up to her teacher’s expectations.

Replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and cannibals, State of Wonder is a tale that leads you into the very heart of darkness, and then shows what lies on the other side.

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Book Description HarperLuxe, 2011. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: "Expect miracleswhen you read Ann Patchett's fiction."New YorkTimes Book Review Award-winning, New York Times bestsellingauthor Ann Patchett returns with a provocative andassured novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazonrainforest. Infusing the narrative with the same ingenuity and emotionalurgency that pervaded her acclaimed previous novels Bel Canto, Taft, Run, The Magician's Assistant, and ThePatron Saint of Liars, Patchett delivers anenthrallingly innovative tale of aspiration, exploration, and attachment in State of Wondera gripping adventurestory and a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name ofdiscovery and love. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0062065211

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Book Description HarperLuxe. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0062065211 A researcher at a pharmaceutical company, Marina Singh must step out of her comfort zone when she is sent into the heart of the Amazonian delta to check on a field team that has been silent for two years--a dangerous assignment that forces Marina to confront the ghosts of her past. (general fiction). Simultaneous. Bookseller Inventory # 13731447

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Book Description Harperluxe, United States, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. large type edition. 221 x 152 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to the Amazon to find her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have disappeared while working on a new drug. No one knows where Dr. Swenson is, and the last person sent to find her died before completing his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey in hopes of finding answers.Now in her seventies, the uncompromising Dr. Swenson dominates her research team and the natives with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices are those Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she is still unable to live up to her teacher s expectations.Replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and cannibals, State of Wonder is a tale that leads you into the very heart of darkness, and then shows what lies on the other side. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780062065216

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Book Description Harperluxe, United States, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. large type edition. 221 x 152 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to the Amazon to find her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have disappeared while working on a new drug. No one knows where Dr. Swenson is, and the last person sent to find her died before completing his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey in hopes of finding answers.Now in her seventies, the uncompromising Dr. Swenson dominates her research team and the natives with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices are those Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she is still unable to live up to her teacher s expectations.Replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and cannibals, State of Wonder is a tale that leads you into the very heart of darkness, and then shows what lies on the other side. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780062065216

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