Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I just finished Olive Kitteredge last night. I loved it. And I almost didn't even try to read it. After I bought it, I noticed on the back of the book that it referred to "stories" as the book was discussed and I realized that it was short stories. However, I also realized that the stories seemed to all be related somehow to Olive, so I decided to give it a try. (Yes, I am a short story snob...I just hate getting into a story and having it end quickly...I just prefer books!).
Olive is a retired math school teacher married to Henry, the local pharmacist, who lives in the small town of Crosby, Maine. Olive appears to be opininated and somewhat inflexible in her world views. Each story is about someone in the town, and Olive is invoved in teh story somehow or somewhere. As each story goes on, you begin to really know Olive, as you watch Olive begin to know herself, as she ages.
There were a lot of lines in the book that touched me and/or made me ponder. Such as: "And she was happy right now, it was true. Jane Houlton, shifting slightly inside her nice black coat, was thinking that, after all, life was a gift-that one of those things about getting older was knowing that so many moments weren't just moment, they were gifts." and another: "She remembered what hope was, and this was it. That inner churning that moves you forward, plows you through life the way the boats below plowed the shiny water, the way the plane was plowing forward to a place new, and where she was needed. She had been asked to be part of her son's life.". And one more: "And so, if this man next to her now was not a man she would have chosen before this time, what did it matter? He most likely wouldn't have chosen her either. But here they were, and Olive pictured tow slices of Swiss cheese pressed together, such holes they brought to this union-what pieces life took out of you."....Brilliant writing!
The last story is titled "River" and it is stunning. I read and reread the last 2 pages 3 times after I finished the book. No wonder this book was announced the winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was really good!