Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

The Meaning of Meme

Nashville novelist Ann Patchett reflects on what it’s like to be in “the cultural loop”

March 4, 2013 Perhaps most celebrated for her novels, including the bestselling Bel Canto and State of Wonder, and for her independent book store, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Ann Patchett has recently enjoyed a morsel of fame on the HBO sitcom Girls. The show, well into its second season, makes a habit of aggressive name-dropping and has decided to bring Patchett into the spotlight.

“I never thought I’d meet so many other women who feel the same way I do about Ann Patchett,” says Girls character Loreen Horvath, a middle-aged college professor and mother of the show’s protagonist, Hannah. According to a report in by Daniel D’Addario, “the joke here, perhaps, is that Patchett is the sort of tasteful, excellent, high-mid-brow author for whom women like Hannah’s mother would, near-universally, feel a strong affinity.”

Patchett, however, welcomed the reference with modesty. She explained to Salon that an ex-boyfirend was the one who alerted her to the Girls episode, even calling her a “meme”—a widely popular image or video that circulates the Internet. “I had to ask him what a ‘meme’ was,” she admits.

To read Ann Patchett’s essay about Charlie Strobel, founder of Nashville’s Room in the Inn nonprofit advocate for the homeless, click here. To read Chapter 16’s extensive coverage of Ann Patchett, click here.