2012: 27. State of Wonder

"The news of Anders Eckmann's death came by way of Aerogram, a piece of bright blue airmail paper that served both as stationery and, when folded over and sealed along the edges, the envelope." 

State of Wonder, Ann Patchett

      I've really enjoyed much of Patchett's prior work - indeed, I loved The Magician's Assistant and The Patron Saint of Liars, and really liked Run and Bel Canto.  So I was very excited to read her latest - which is a modern take on Heart of Darkness.  Dr. Marina Singh works in Minnesota in a pharmeceutical lab.  Her partner, Anders Eckmann, was sent to the Amazon to try to convince a rogue researcher (this would be our Kurtz) to provide some results to the company.  When they receive word of Eckmann's death (via a very dismissive letter), his wife convinces Marina to go an retrieve his body - or at least get some more information.  So she goes off into the Amazon.  

     The book is great in capturing the strange otherness of the tropics - just how bizarre and alien a place like that can be from modern life.   It is the last wild place, and it is so far away.  That part of the book - where Marina tried to keep her sanity in that strange place, was great.   My quibble was with the entire character of the Kurtz stand-in, Dr. Anneck Swenson (who, of course, is Marina's former teacher in medical school). I don't want to give too much plot away, but it takes some twists and turns that I found impossible to swallow.  So I give the book a A+ for atmospherics, and a B- for plot.  If you like Patchett you'll probably like it, but I didn't love it the way I've loved her other stuff.

Categories: Fiction, Library Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017