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The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,859 ratings  ·  245 reviews
“The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.”

So writes Ann Patchett in "The Getaway Car", a wry, wisdom-packed memoir of her life as a writer. Here, for the first time, one of America’s most celebrated authors ("State of Wonder", "Bel Canto"
Kindle Edition, 45 pages
Published August 25th 2011 by Byliner, Inc.
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Stef This essay is included in her book “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.”
Dennis Toni, I can send it to you if you'd like. In PDF because I don't save books in other formats.
Or follow this link for other formats (you'll have to sig…more
Toni, I can send it to you if you'd like. In PDF because I don't save books in other formats.
Or follow this link for other formats (you'll have to sign up but I've been using it for a long time):

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.16  · 
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Julie Ehlers
The Getaway Car! It never gets old, no matter how many times (at least three so far) I read it, and the only problem with it is that it's over too quickly. Now I desperately want to reread Truth and Beauty, but I'm not sure where either of my copies are. The reason I have two copies is that I desperately wanted to reread Truth and Beauty once before, couldn't find my copy, and bought another one. There's a lesson here: Keep your friends close and your Ann Patchett books closer. This axiom served ...more
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
“...even if it takes some digging, ideas are out there. Just open your eyes and look at the world. Writing the ideas down, it turns out, is the real trick...

”You learn things about characters as you write them, so even if you think you know where things are heading, don’t set it in stone; you might change your mind. You have to let the action progress the way it must, not the way you want it to. You create an order for the universe and then you set that universe in motion.”

I really enjoyed The
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
THE GETAWAY CAR is Patchett’s mini-writing memoir and it’s my favorite work of hers to date. Girl had some making up to do. I’m a BEL CANTO fan, but I had very mixed feelings about this summer’s STATE OF WONDER. But all is forgiven because girl takes a hammer and NAILS it with this short and sweet memoir that tracks the ups and downs of her career through the sale of her first novel. Highlights include her tales of being one of Grace Paley’s student (Paley is so obviously Dr. Swenson in STATE OF ...more
Catelyn May
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebooks
Sometimes I read a book at exactly the right moment. And every time it happens, I am struck by that peculiar feeling that I've received something valuable that I didn't even know I needed. I needed to read this and I read it at exactly the right moment, and that might color my feelings about it, but isn't that how it is with everything?

When I was younger, mostly middle school and high school, I read books on writing. I never wrote much myself, as I knew that most of what I would attempt would be
Emma Sea
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved Patchett's voice. I've never read any of her fiction, but I certainly want to now.
Ginger Bensman
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-writing, memoir
In The Getaway Car, Ann Patchett gives us a glimpse of how and why she became a writer, and what it takes to be successful. This is a slim inspiring little gem of a book full of honesty and wisdom. Recommended if you are a writer or aspire to be one. I expect I’ll read it more than once.
Cindy Rollins
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Writers or Wannabes
Shelves: 2017
I did not intend to finish this in so quickly, I wanted to savor it, but I couldn't put it down. I like Ann.
Anne Bogel
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the first Ann Patchett I've read, outside of the occasional magazine article. I thought this memoir was absolutely terrific, and well-suited to the Kindle single format.
Deborah Edwards
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Writers are always looking for inspiration. Most of us know we will never write the Great American Novel, but we continue to write. Most of us also know we will never make our living as writers, and so we work other jobs to pay the bills while writing in the bits and pieces of time not filled by other concerns. When we think of an author like Ann Patchett, who has made the leap, has written successful novels of depth and substance that also afford her to pay the bills and live her life as a writ ...more
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved every word of this insanely wise and insightful account.
I'm wavering between three and four stars. Patchett is not my favorite writer but she's a writer and I enjoy reading what authors have to say about how they do their work. I write, too, just in a totally different capacity, but it's still writing. I often find helpful things in essays like this, whether it's comfort (yes, it's normal to have demoralizing moments in the process of writing), or tips that might work for me when I have trouble focusing enough to get all that blasted information and ...more
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-writing
This is a Kindle "Short" that I enjoyed very much. I have not read any of Patchett's other works but her discussion of how she approaches fiction intrigued me. I read this in two sittings so I'm not sure that I remember what the getaway car had to do with it, but this is a comfortable, entertaining read for those writerly types among us. Or I would imagine a fan of her work would enjoy reading this. She offers some advice for those "writerly" types who want to publish and she gives general writi ...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Truly inspirational little memoir for writers. Filled with so many quote-worthy snippets ... though this one resonated with me greatly (and obviously with many others, given the number of Kindle "highlighters" on it):

"I believe that, more than anything else, this grief of constantly having to face our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing."
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
'Was it possible that, in everybody’s lymph system, a nascent novel is knocking around? A few errant cells that, if given the proper encouragement, cigarettes and gin, the requisite number of bad affairs, could turn into something serious? Living a life is not the same as writing a book, and it got me thinking about the relationship between what we know and what we can put on paper. For me it’s like this: I make up a novel in my head. (There will be more about this later.) This is the happiest t ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I would read anything this woman has written. I don’t even want to be a writer and I found this 47 page mini-memoir really interesting and insightful.
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I’ve never read a book or a short story by Ann Patchett before and I can’t tell you that I ever will—I passed Bel Canto more times than I could count when I worked at Borders without feeling any urge to pick it up. I also can’t tell you why I decided to pay $2.99 for an ebook by an author I’d never read before, when I haven’t read writing memoirs in almost a decade. But here we are. I bought it, I read it, I loved it and I learned from it.

This is super short, under a hundred pages (or a hundred
Joe Flood
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The questions I get most about writing are the practical ones. What do you write with? Where do you write? How do you find time to write?

Answers to these questions are supplied by novelist Ann Patchett in The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life. It's like a FAQ for aspiring writers.

Do you need to get an MFA in Creative Writing? Not if it means going into debt, according the prudent Patchett.

Should you turn your desk away from the window, to avoid distractions? "Desk positionin
Angela Burke
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and quick read. I can never resist writers on writing.
Billie Pritchett
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of the best practical books about writing, and it's only 45 pages. I encourage you to read, but here is the takeaway. If you want to write, you have to put in time writing. You can't wait for it to be perfect. You just have to start and start exercising those writing muscles. One of Ann Patchett's great points is that we accept that to get better at music and sports, you have to spend time engaging in those activities, but for some reason when it comes to writing, people seem to think you ca ...more
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
The full trajectory, from certainty about becoming a writer ("I may have been shaky about tying my shoes and telling time, but I was sure about my career, and I consider this certainty the greatest gift of my life"), to paralyzing self-criticism ("Before long I was able to think the sentence, anticipate her critique of it, and decide against it, all without ever uncapping my pen") and, finally, making peace with the transition between perfect book residing in the brain and degraded representatio ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
3 1/2 stars

I'm wondering why I haven't read more of Ann Patchett's works? I'm not even a writer and yet found this "Practical Memoir About Writing and Life" inspiring. I especially enjoyed learning about her writing process for The Patron Saint of Liars, the one Patchett book I have read and really liked.
Trish Bachman
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
If you dream of being a writer this essay is for you. Patchett shares a little of her backstory and presents some helpful tips.
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm familiar with Ann Patchett, but I'd never read her work, and I'd never heard about this book. But in the final episodes of David Sedaris's MasterClass, he recommends it with such ardor, I had to look for it. It's a very short book, but not an easy book to find. I tracked it down on a site that offered it as a free ebook download and read it on Apple Books.

This is Patchett's memoir as a writer. She describes her experiences, from grad school to workshops and retreats. She pays tribute to thos
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle-free
Won a copy of this Kindle single when joining I've heard parts of it before, in various talks given by Ann Patchett (and posted online). I enjoyed listening to the talks more than reading this single. I'm not interested in writing fiction, but many of the suggestions made by AP have to do with good work habits, not exclusively with writing.

Favorite quotes:

“It's a wonderful thing to find a great teacher, but you also have to find him or her at a time in life when you're able to liste
Juan Ignacio Gelos

“The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.”So writes Ann Patchett in "The Getaway Car", a wry, wisdom-packed memoir of her life as a writer. Here, for the first time, one of America’s most celebrated authors ("State of Wonder", "Bel Canto", "Truth and Beauty"), talks at length about her literary career—the highs and the lows—and shares advice on the craft and ar

Oct 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Apparently one of the downsides of being a best-selling author is that you’re constantly inundated by offers from insistent strangers to take advantage of the fabulous opportunity to write their enthralling life stories. For a 50/50 split of the profits, of course, since they’d write it themselves if they had the time.

This short piece essentially says feel free to dig out that inner great novel yourself because she’s not going to write it for you. Just realize that you’ll need talent, drive, dis
A.C. Collins
Oct 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
I LOVE to read books about writing, especially the memoirs. I've read a few of Patchett's books and I prefer the nonfiction, this especially included. I like her practical stance on MFA programs (don't go in debt for one) and her honest sharing of how difficult writing can be and how completely stubborn the writer can be (about writing). Patchett had the benefit of studying under some of America's premier authors and argues you can teach a person to write, albeit only in sentence structure, plot ...more
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoirs
Warm, smart, and funny. Great reading for any writer no matter what stage of a career they might be at. I found it incredibly reassuring and kind, and I marked several sections with (electronic) highlights so that I can go back and re-read them again next time I'm battling self-doubt and insecurity.

Also, I read several anecdotes out loud to my husband because they were so funny!

But my favorite section was the one on her friendships with other writers, which was so true and so powerful. I loved
Kaytee Cobb
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Read this for the #MMDReadingChallenge as a "book you can read in a day", or a morning, as the case may be. it was short and witty and insightful. even if you don't have dreams of writing, I think that Patchett's advice is kind of universally applicable: put in the time, do what you love, work through the process, just sit down and do it. Recommended, and a very short easy read anyone can finish in a day.
Guy Austin
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just 45 pages - it is packed very efficiently with great personal history and professional wisdom. In reading I was hearing echo's of Outliers by Malcom Gladwell in that there are no lucky accidents in becoming a successful published writer. It also peaked my interest in reading her writing. Commonwealth is going to be a TBR for sure.
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Patchett was born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother is the novelist Jeanne Ray.

She moved to Nashville, Tennessee when she was six, where she continues to live. Patchett said she loves her home in Nashville with her doctor husband and dog. If asked if she could go any place, that place would always be home. "Home is ...the stable window that opens out into the imagination."

Patchett attended hi

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