Reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

October 19, 2011

I am starting page 132, but I can’t resist sharing already. Here is a novel without protagonists or a discernible plot. Out the window and who cares?

How can a writer who has, I suspect, never been part of a group held by terrorists for two weeks (so far) dare to tackle this subject? Is her empathic sensitivity so highly developed? Let not the female reader be turned off. Ann Patchett enters the lives of the captives and of the terrorists with dead-on detail.

Here is an example of her detailing as the young terrorists explore the rich home of the vice president. Patchett does not lazily stoop for the cliche crystal chandelier and gold damask napkins.  “The soldiers spent most of their days exploring the house, eating the pistachio nuts they found in the pantry, sniffing the lavender hand lotion in the bathroom. The house offered up no end of curiosities: closets the size of some houses they had seen, bedrooms where no one slept, cupboards that held nothing but rolls of colored paper and ribbon.”

I need say not another word.

Except, read this novel slowly.