Saturday, September 17, 2011
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
I really, really wanted to love this book as I loved her earlier book, Bel Canto. But I couldn’t. It has the same feeling of the suspension of time in a confined place and it explores the characters and their reaction to the restrictions and a plasticity of time as in Bel Canto. But I couldn’t get past the implausibility of the story. It just wouldn’t have happened, at least not that way. The writing is vividly descriptive—you are in the dense green jungle, the anaconda leaves you breathless, the martins and rapps and martinets are exquisite. Most of characters are complex and evolve as the story unfolds; others remain excruciatingly one dimensional. I just don’t believe research pharmacologists working for a large pharmaceutical company set off so completely unprepared into the Amazon and the repetition of first one, followed by another, and another, is just so implausible as to spoil what would otherwise have been a really good book.