Even though we still have a month left in this, um, delightful year, I’m pretty certain that Commonwealth will land on the very top of my best books list. I was blown away by how good this was, partly because I’ve never been especially into Ann Patchett. I loved State of Wonder and thought Run and Patron Saint of Liars were just okay. I’d never even bothered with The Magician’s Assistant because I remember when it came out, a friend gave up on it halfway through because, “This whole thing is about a magician turning his shows into lectures about becoming vegetarians, it is so dumb.” This friend was a really fast reader who liked just about everything so if he was DNFing I knew it had to be bad so I filed it under SKIP.
Of course, because I loved Commonwealth so much, I was mentally browsing through her other titles thinking about what I might have missed. I’ve always meant to get around to Bel Canto, maybe that memoir about the lady with the face, definitely going to skip that vegetarian magician one though. My other reader friends professed their longtime Patchett love and I thought, “yeah but probably not that vegetarian magician one though.” Then one of my very most trusted reader friends wrote in her goodreads review of Commonwealth that while she loved it, her favorite would always be The Magician’s Assistant. WHAT THAT VEGETARIAN MAGICIAN ONE BUT I HEARD THAT WAS SO BAD. One love and one hate, now it’s officially polarizing, and that means I need to read it because I want to choose a side. And now that I’m about halfway through The Magician’s Assistant, I realize that I’ve been avoiding this perfectly fine book for almost 20 years because I was totally thinking of something else. Oops!