In this episode of The Archive Project, Ann Patchett retraces the steps that lead to her 2013 essay collection, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. With a seemingly endless wellspring of wit and charm, Patchett takes us a series of adventures that ultimately lead to her first and only collection of essays. From refilling ketchup bottles to writing pieces for Seventeen and Vogue to opening up her own bookstore, Parnassus, Patchett effortlessly weaves the story of her literary journey. Simultaneously humorous and deeply personal, Patchett’s lecture gives the listener a peek into the rich and often meandering path of one of literature’s great voices.
“Well, what it turned out the story of my happy marriage was, was the never ending history of divorce in my family. Everyone in my family for as far as the eye can see, in any direction, has been divorced. And when I sat down to write about marriage, it was really fascinating to realize that everything I know about marriage comes from divorce, and that divorce is the bedrock of my marriage.” —Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett is the author of seven novels, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, State of Wonder, and Commonwealth. She was the editor of Best American Short Stories, 2006, and has written three books of nonfiction–Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with the writer Lucy Grealy, What Now? an expansion of her graduation address at Sarah Lawrence College, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays examining the theme of commitment. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Patchett has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, and her books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. In November, 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Ann Patchett lives in Nashville with her husband, Karl VanDevender, and their dog, Sparky. (Bio courtesy of Ann Patchett)