Thursday, April 24, 2008

Reviewed: Now What? By Ann Patchett

As it is nearing May and the time for graduates is upon us, Harper’s has done us a big ol’ favor and published this book. Now instead of buying Dr. Suess’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go, moms and dads across the nation have a new option. The book is the published essay of the commencement speech Ann Patchett gave at Sarah Lawrence College, tricked out with some “life-pondering” photography.

I should disclose that I’m a huge fan of Ann Patchett. I met her a couple years ago in Tallahassee and she is not only an amazing writer but a really lovely, charming lady as well. The essay is a perfect example of what I like about her—that she’s honest, unflinching and humorous and perfectly describes the post-college malaise so many of us find ourselves in. The essay caters to our kind, and by that I mean you, Gen Y, with your whiny find-yourself-self-involvement. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not criticizing—I’ve got it, too. Gone are the days of emerging from youth to suck it up and go to work in the coal mines. Now we get to ask ourselves, where do I really belong? Ugh, it’s atrocious. I sometimes get tired of myself.

So I was, of course, shiny-eyed with recognition at Patchett’s admission of too many years of wandering lost, waitressing at TGIFriday’s, trying to figure it all out. The essay is something us crazy kids should read, if we’re anywhere between 20 and 30, but the package it comes in, on the other hand, might make you want to poke your eyes out. I suspect that, to stretch the page count, the publisher stuck in as many inspiring images as they could. I mean, the amount of illustrations and photographs used to demonstrate for us dummies the idea of indecision (e.g., footprints in the sand going around in a circle, a lone figure standing before a giant maze) is really astounding.

The essay alone earns 90 stars. The packaging it comes in is so atrocious, I give it 4 stars. Moms and Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas, don't let me dissuade you; it will make a nice graduation gift.

Update: I just realized that, including the cover, there are no less than 3 pictures of mazes in this book.

1 comment:

Susan said...

let's be honest, publishers, and include pictures of women drunk and crying in a hallway because they don't know what their life is for, or having boring sex in an empty relationship they think will give them a sense of purpose, or someone working a dead end job, getting yelled at by some asshole who needs to feel more important than the waiter/clerk/receptionist. that's what life after college is really like.