Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve beaten the system. The library system that is. Down the man. I figured out that if you put a hold on a large print format of the book you’re requesting you get it in less than half the time it takes to get the people with normal vision version. Of course I could be skewing national statistics on the visually impaired, but in my mind’s perfectly capable eye, I’m winning. I was only about 10th on the blind person’s list for Ann Patchett’s “State of Wonder”, where I would have been over 70th if I didn’t use my powers of evil genius to obtain it. I can’t even mathematically calculate how much waiting time I just saved myself. But I’ll try. About 60 odd people each hoarding their copy for 3 weeks, give or take a few days, adjusting for the multiple copies owned by the library, factoring in the time it takes to deliver the book to my preferred branch, carry the one, multiplying by pi as the limit approaches infinity … that’s gotta be like 4 years of waiting I just saved myself. And the book was good, but no offense Ann, it wasn’t worth waiting out my early 30’s for.
The book was good. And then it got better. It had a lot of twists and turns, not unlike the Amazonian river where the bulk of the story took place. It starts off, as every good book should, with a pharmaceutical murder mystery. I thought the book took place in Sweden because the main characters’ names were things like Anders Eckman, and Dr. Swensen, which is basically the word “Swedeners” itself scrambled up in a word jumble, but turns out it’s Minnesota. If they had have had a heroine named Mrs. Ines Odah I would have got it. You don’t learn a whole lot about the multiple characters as they first come into the story, but over time Ms. Patchett has a way of making you care about each and every one of them, even the one that doesn’t utter a single word for the entire novel. Which is saying something. Pun intended. She makes boring scientists and their boring study on the effects of female fertility in the Lakashi tribe somewhere in the jungle in Brazil actually interesting. You also don’t learn a lot up front about the mission of the main character as she’s sent by her lover/employer into the depths of man-eating tribes in the Brazilian jungle but I believe this is for the best. The people she meets and befriends and the adventures she has are better left as a surprise.
However, the author has left this reader puzzling about the reason why she chose the title, “State of Wonder”. Sometimes titles are very literal in describing the theme of the book and some are purposely too abstract to even waste brain cells on trying to figure them out, but the meaning behind “State of Wonder” just hovers slightly beyond the reach of my fingertips. Which is ironic because that is also where I have to hold the large print version of it so I can make out the words like I’m at the optometrist’s office reading an eye test chart. Please read this book and get back to me on your thoughts of why this title was chosen and save me from my own personal state of wondering.