Alas! Library Directors are seldom paid to read, but like many library people, I do plenty of reading on my own.
I read "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout because it's on this year's Notable Books List, as chosen by a committee of the American Library Association. It also won this year's Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Olive Kitteridge is the main character in several of these stories, and just a small player in others. I found myself watching and waiting for her, wondering when and where she'd enter the story. I ended up reading the book more like I read a novel, not pausing between stories.
Strouts sets the stories in Maine, in a small town along the coast. The stories vary in time through the late 20th century. Olive Kitteridge teaches, and so knows a lot of people. She's a large and physically awkward person who often says the wrong thing and who sometimes stokes her own resentment when people don't turn out the way she'd hoped.
Strout employs the short story for its full potential here. Exploring "what ifs" in social situations...what if the mother of the groom overhears the bride laughing at her? What if a man who is about to commit suicide must first save the life of a drowning woman? What if your big sister expects you to keep her secret about running away?
Each year, I read most of the books on the ALA Notable Books list, hoping that I'll find favorites among them. So far this year, "Olive Kitteridge" leads the "favorites."
And if you've read "Olive Kitteridge," what did you think? Is it one of your favorites?
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