Friday, November 6, 2009
This book has been om my "list" for A LONG time. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009, and was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award, so I knew it was a must read. I finally got it from paperbackswap.com a few days ago and was excited to start it.
This book has 13 chapters that all connect somehow to Olive Kitteridge. Olive is married to a well liked man who seems to never really confide in his wife and left the child rearing to her. Each chapter is more or less 13 short stories and the stories wander through many years, going backwards and forwards in time, set in a small town in New England. But almost every story has an older couple that has had an affair at some point in their lives. Some physical some emotional but all impacting their married lives. I found it all rather depressing. I found myself actually leave the story as I was reading and wonder about the author. I do believe Elizabeth Stout is a very gifted writer but I don't think she would like to hear I left her story to contemplate how someone could view marriage the way she does. Also if she wasn't writing about marriages that were shallow she was having her characters brood on suicide or murder. A book, a town, an author definitely missing Jesus.
In one of the chapters, Olive bursts into tears when she meets an anorexic young woman. “I don’t know who you are,” she confesses, “but young lady, you’re breaking my heart.” “I’m starving, too,” Olive tells her. “Why do you think I eat every doughnut in sight?” “You’re not starving,” the girl replies, looking at this large woman, with her thick wrists and hands, her “big lap.”
“Sure I am,” Olive says. “We all are.”
This is what I felt this book was trying to say. We all are starving for something. Attention, love, admiration. Olive feels everything is unfair and everyone is lonely. What a sad way to see life. There was no hope in this book, no real love. In fact the author does a great job of criticizing Christians (and Republicans).
I am not sure I recommend this book but I did think it was very well written. I am sure at least one of my readers has read this book. What did you think of the book. Am I missing something?