Ann Patchett's newest novel is Commonwealth. From her Q&A with Lily Meyer at Slate:
I love Philip Roth in the way that Franny loves Leo before she meets him, but that love is complicated for me. I’m a Jewish woman, and we aren’t his favorite species on Earth. Do you ever have trouble with those writers as a woman?--Marshal Zeringue
When I was younger, I did. Lolita killed me when I was in college. It frightened me and offended me, and later on it became my favorite book because I could read it as a book about language and love and insanity and bravery and the hideousness and complexity of the human soul. When I was young I had a really hard time with a lot of things I read as a woman, but somehow—and I don’t know if this is a strength or a weakness—it fell away. Updike’s four Rabbit Angstrom novels, which I reread last year, are the most mind-blowingly offensive things you’ll ever read.
But they’re so good!
Exactly. There’s nothing like them. Nothing touches them. I’m careful when I recommend those books, but to my mind, if you want to be a writer, you can go to an MFA program, or you can stay home and read the Rabbit books. Everything you need to know is in those books or the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan novels. What the Rabbit books bring you is...[read on]