Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout

This was a book-club pick.  It's also a Pulitzer Prize winner.  It's a lovely novel told through short stories in which the title character appears.  Olive is at the center of some stories and barely present in others.  
Strout does a particularly stunning job of describing and reflecting on aging.  She's got a degree in gerontology and makes good use of her knowledge here, taking Olive from middle-aged to her seventies.
Olive has not been a particularly easy person to live with.  She abused her son, though she insists fiercely that she loved him.  She's gruff, prone to temper flares, and opinionated.  She's none too fond of people unless they are in dire need of love. 
The stories cover themes of finding companionship and emotional support outside of marriage while staying married, depression (treated and untreated), parenting and results thereof, the walls people build between themselves and others (sometimes by choice, sometimes made of the debris of resentments, sometimes indestructible).  This reminds me a bit of Wendell Berry, but with a darker slant.  

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