Tuesday, February 4, 2014

cupcakes and "state of wonder" by ann patchett

Last week I picked myself up and carried myself off to a cupcake and coffee shop called Baked and Wired, which was recommended to me by many DC-types, who said the cupcakes there were far superior to any others - in short, they told me, I had to check it out.  And who can say no to frosting and chai?  No one.

I went on a Sunday, which was a rookie mistake.  Rookie mistake! It was so packed I had to wait several awkward-balancing-my-bag-and-coat-and-glass-and-cupcake minutes to find a spot near the window to put down my drink.  It was so packed I'm pretty sure I joined the date that was going on next to me.  Don't go on a Sunday, unless you're getting things to go or...like making friends with strangers on dates.

That being said, it was definitely someplace I'd recommend checking out if you're in the area.  It's small enough to feel cozy, but with enough space in the back to hold plenty of neighborhood-dwellers and hipster undergrads from around the city.  The cupcakes have cool names (none that I took pictures of, alas), and I got one called "Pretty Bitchin'," which is how I was feeling that day.  They also have quiches and other baked goods and really nice staff.

In other news, I finished up one of my books, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, and here are some of my thoughts:

Basic plot:
Marina Singh, a pharmacologist in Minneapolis, MN, goes searching for her co-worker, Anders Eckman, after she receives a letter with the news of his death.  The book follows her as she goes first to a main city in Brazil, then ventures further and further into the jungle to find any information she can about the circumstances of his death.  Things are complicated by the fact that he was looking into research on a new drug for a pharmaceutical company, and no one can say how well or how poorly things are going.

On a scale from 1 to Cripplingly Depressing:
3-5.  If you had a tremendous experience reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad in high school, then you will fall all over yourself for the first two-thirds of this book.  There are a lot of malarial hallucinations and dark, damp, suffocating descriptions of the Amazonian jungle and the various crispy critters that live inside it. 

Memories from reading:
This was a Target grab, purchased right before I took a flight home for Thanksgiving.  I don't know if it was my state of mind or the fact that the beginning of this book was difficult, but I have a lot of memories of reading this book in the semi-lit darkness of an airline cabin on cross-country night flights, filled with my own angst and anguish.

The whole thing.  I had a love-hate thing going on with this book, and I didn't know if I was going to finish it.  The characters were difficult, with issues and history and complexity, which is good, but also frustrating.  Overall, the trajectory of the novel and its characters was gratifying.

Favorite relationship:
Easter, oh man.  A deaf boy who serves as an intermediary between the doctors/researchers and the Lakashi tribe.  He was the best.

Weapon of Choice:
Paperback.  Small enough to fit in a carry-on, but with just the right amount of heft.

Other titles by this author:
What now?
Truth & Beauty
Bel Canto
The Magician's Assistant
The Patron Saint of Liars

How about you? Have you read State of Wonder? What were your thoughts?


  1. I really enjoy reading your book reviews! Interesting and funny, and gives multiple dimensions of the book. {I am no good at book reviews!} I read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, which I really enjoyed. I may need to add this one to my list! Have a fab weekend!

    1. Thanks Belinda! I tried to keep it short and sweet :) I'll have to check out Bel Canto soon.