Ann Patchett: State of Wonder

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Ann Patchett State of Wonder
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    State of Wonder
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    Современная проза / на английском языке
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State of Wonder: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

Предлагаем к чтению аннотацию, описание, краткое содержание или предисловие (зависит от того, что написал сам автор книги «State of Wonder»). Если вы не нашли необходимую информацию о книге — напишите в комментариях, мы постараемся отыскать её.

Pharmaceutical researcher Dr. Marina Singh sets off into the Amazon jungle to find the remains and effects of a colleague who recently died under somewhat mysterious circumstances. But first she must locate Dr. Anneck Swenson, a renowned gynecologist who has spent years looking at the reproductive habits of a local tribe where women can conceive well into their middle ages and beyond. Eccentric and notoriously tough, Swenson is paid to find the key to this longstanding childbearing ability by the same company for which Dr. Singh works. Yet that isn’t their only connection: both have an overlapping professional past that Dr. Singh has long tried to forget. In finding her former mentor, Dr. Singh must face her own disappointments and regrets, along with the jungle’s unforgiving humidity and insects, making a multi-layered atmospheric novel that is hard to put down. Indeed, Patchett solidifies her well-deserved place as one of today’s master storytellers. Emotional, vivid, and a work of literature that will surely resonate with readers in the weeks and months to come, truly is a thing of beauty and mystery, much like the Amazon jungle itself.

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State of Wonder — читать онлайн бесплатно полную книгу (весь текст) целиком

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Outside the snow had been falling in wet clumps long enough to bury every blade of new spring grass. The crocuses she had seen only that morning, their yellow and purple heads straight up from the dirt, were now frozen as solid as carp in the lake. The tiny blooms of redbud made burdened shelves of snow. Mr. Fox and Marina pushed forward through the icy slush without a thought that they were for the very first time in their relationship leaving the building together. They made the long walk from the southern quadrant of the Vogel campus to the parking lot nearly a quarter mile away. Marina hadn’t brought her snow boots. It hadn’t been snowing when she left for work.

“I’ll tell you something else,” Mr. Fox said once they were in his car, the snow brushed off and the defroster turned to high. “I never thought he’d be gone so long. I told him when he left to take his time, to get the point across, but I had thought we were talking about a week, maybe two at the outside. I never considered him staying for more than two weeks.”

“He had a hard time finding her, that threw his schedule off

to start.”

Anders had left the day after Christmas. The company had wanted him to go sooner but Christmas was nonnegotiable for the Eckmans. She had shown Mr. Fox the few letters she’d had from Anders because they confided nothing. He had mostly talked about Manaus and then about the birding trips he had taken in the jungle with a guide. To her, Anders had spoken mostly of rain. If Mr. Fox had also received letters from Anders, and she was sure he had, he never mentioned them.

“So two weeks then. Not three months. I would have told him to come back—”

“You couldn’t get a hold of him then.”

“Exactly.” Mr. Fox let his eyes trail off across the whitened landscape that smeared beneath the windshield wipers. “I would have told him there’s a message to deliver and once he gave it to her he should have gotten on a plane himself, with or without her. That was his

only job.”

“It never would have been as simple as that,” she said, as much to herself as to him. No one seriously thought the outcome of telling Dr. Swenson she needed to bring her research back to Minnesota would be Dr. Swenson packing her lab into boxes and coming home — not Anders, not Mr. Fox, not Marina. In truth, it wasn’t even essential that she come back. Had she been willing to reopen lines of communication, to prove that the drug was nearly completed, to let the company install a coterie of its own doctors who would give regular and accurate reports of the drug’s progress, Vogel would have left her in her research station for years, pouring in cash from an opened vein. But now Anders was dead and the notion of success was reduced to sickening folly. Just the thought of Dr. Swenson gave Marina the sensation of a cold hand groping for her heart. It is fifteen years ago and she is in the lecture hall at Johns Hopkins in a seat safely on the aisle of a middle row, and there is Dr. Swenson pacing in front of the podium, talking about the cervix, the cervix, with a level of intensity that elevates to such ferocity that none of them dare to look at their watches. No one in the crowd of a hundred will suggest that class is long over, class should be dismissed, there are other classes they are now in the process of missing. Even though Marina is a second-year resident she is attending a lecture for third-year medical students because Dr. Swenson has made it clear to residents and medical students alike that when she is speaking they should be in attendance. But Marina would not dream of missing a lecture or leaving a lecture over a matter as inconsequential as time. She is riveted in place while the slide show of atypical cells on the high wall before her flicks past so quickly they nearly make a moving picture. Dr. Swenson knows everything Marina needs to know, answers the questions Marina has not yet formulated in her mind. A tiny woman made tinier by distance fixes one hundred people to their seats with a voice that never troubles itself to be raised, and because they are all afraid of her and because they are afraid of missing anything she might say, they stay as long as she chooses to keep them. Marina believes the entire room exists as she exists, at the intersection of terror and exaltation, a place that keeps the mind exceedingly alert. Her hand sweeps over page after page as she writes down every syllable Dr. Swenson speaks. It is the class in which Marina learns to take notes like a court reporter, a skill that will serve her for the rest of her life.

It strikes Marina as odd that all these years later she still remembers Dr. Swenson in the lecture hall. In her mind’s eye she never sees her in surgery or on the floor making rounds, but at a safe, physical distance.

Karen and Anders Eckman lived on a cul-de-sac where the neighbors drove slowly knowing that boys could come sledding down a hill or shooting out between the shrubbery on a bike. “That one,” Marina said, pointing to the red brick, and Mr. Fox pulled the car to the curb. Marina and Anders must have made about the same amount of money. They never talked about it but they did the same work; Anders had been at the company a few years longer than Marina so he could have made a little more. But Marina’s house, which was quite small and still too big for her, was paid for. She made regular contributions to charity and let the rest of her money languish in the bank while Anders paid for this house, piano lessons, teeth straightening, summer camp, college accounts. How had he managed, three sons and a wife, and who would pay for this life now that he was dead? For a while she sat there, imagining the various birthday parties and Christmases, endless pictures of boys with presents, knotted ribbon and torn-up gift-wrap in piles of red and silver and green, until finally the snow laid a blanket over the windshield and cut off the view.

“Now this is a surprise,” Karen Eckman said when she opened the door, both hands grasping the choke chain of an enormous golden retriever; she was a small woman, and it didn’t look like a battle she would win. “No!” she said loudly. “Sit!” She was wearing a white knit stocking cap pulled down over her ears and her coat was just behind her, thrown across a chair in the front hall. Marina was blanking on the dog’s name, though there was a picture of him on Anders’ desk along with pictures of Karen and the boys. He pushed his mallet head against Karen’s hip and gave two sharp barks at the unimaginable good fortune of guests in the middle of the day.

“You’re leaving,” Mr. Fox said, as if this meant maybe they should leave as well.

Karen shook her head. “No, no, you’re fine. I’ve got plenty of time. I was going to swing by the store on the way to pick up the boys but I can do that later. Come inside. It’s freezing.” The dog lunged forward when they entered, hoping for the chance to jump up, but Karen, who had at best twenty pounds on the animal, managed to drag him to the side of the entry hall. “You get back, Pickles,” she said. “You sit.”

Pickles did not sit, and when she let him go she rubbed her hands to work out the indentations the chain-link collar had left. In the kitchen everything was neat: no cups on the countertop, no toys on the floor. Marina had been to the house before but only for parties when every room and hallway was pressed full of people. Empty she could see how big the place was. It would take a lot of children to fill in the open spaces. “Would you like some coffee?” Karen said.

Marina turned to put the question to Mr. Fox and found that he was standing almost directly behind her. Mr. Fox was not taller than Marina. It was something he joked about when they were alone. “No coffee,” Marina said. “Thank you.” It wasn’t a bright day but what light there was reflected off the snow and cast a wide silvery band across the breakfast table. Through the big picture window Marina saw a jungle gym standing on a low hill in the backyard, a rough fort gathering snow on its slanted roof. Pickles leaned up against Marina now and he batted her hand with his head until she reached down to rub the limp chamois of his ears.

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