Category Archives: December 2021 Reads

Read 267 of 2021. These Precious Days: Essays by Ann Patchett

These Precious Days

Title: These Precious Days: Essays Author: Ann Patchett
Publisher: Harper
ISBN: 978-0063092785
Genre: Nonfiction, Essays
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I remember reading my first Ann Patchett novel in the year 2011, and that changed so much about the way I used to live. Bel Canto did and still does so much to me not only as a reader, but also as a person. I am of the firm belief that if certain books have the capacity to do that, then they must be kept close for the entire lifespan.

Having said that, I started devouring everything that Patchett had written before Bel Canto and in the coming years after. This is mainly about her fiction. Now about her non-fiction. The essays mainly. She writes the only way she knows and wants to perhaps, with utmost honesty. This is what I feel every time I read her – a sense of deep honesty. “These Precious Days” her latest collection of essays made me feel just the same and more.

When Patchett speaks of her three fathers, you are moved to tears, because you are reminded of your own father and men who are father figures in your life. When she speaks of literature, you are tempted to pick up her favourite reads. Patchett has a deep sense of friendship, so of course she celebrates some of her friends in this collection. She speaks of her mother with fondness and wit. The title story of the collection is about her acquaintance with Tom Hanks, and the long-lasting beautiful friendship she shared with his assistant Sooki who was battling pancreatic cancer.

Patchett’s writing is without pretension and that’s what makes it not only relatable but also empathetic. Her writing style is her own – it is enchanting, real, glorious, and unafraid to go into deep corners of the mind and heart and present life the way it is – unpredictable, constantly evolving, and mainly lived through memories.

Read 266 of 2021. The Swank Hotel by Lucy Corin

The Swank Hotel

Title: The Swank Hotel
Author: Lucy Corin
Publisher: Graywolf Press
ISBN: 978-1644450666
Genre: Literary Fiction 
Pages: 400 
Source: Publisher 
Rating: 4/5 

The themes explored in “The Swank Hotel” are large and sometimes hit home very closely. There is familial loss, grief, a tangled web of relationships, and a lot of times just plain confusion.

It took me a while to even get to the core of the novel – which is discontentment, the madness surrounding all of us, the madness we are all a part of it, and yet constantly living day after day.

Em, a corporate employee is haunted by her sister’s disappearance. Her sister, Ad, who has battled mental illness for much of her adult life, and this disappearance isn’t a new one. This plagues her everyday living to a large extent and there is this unspoken guilt that she cannot get rid of. At the same time, there is her manager Frank who has a long-time affair with a married man, Jack, who Em obsesses about. We also meet Em’s parents who are in the state of constantly building their home, which also becomes about their age.

The plot of The Swank Hotel is perhaps not a plot in that sense and yet there is so much going on in it. The structure of the book moves from stream of consciousness at times to vignettes to people just being left half-way in the plot only to come back with no tying up of the story, and yet everything comes together in its own way at its own pace. The writing is sharp, meandering, touches the core, and sometimes just the surface, and all of it is imperfectly perfect, just like life and the medley of characters we encounter in this work that is experimentative and unique.