|photo by Anna Reavis|
"Harmon realized by a shift in the girl's expression that this was what she feared--being without love. Who didn't fear that?" from Olive Kitteridge by Olive Stout
When I was younger and had more energy and more initiative, I thought maybe one day I would write a novel. And if I did, I thought it would be set in a physician's waiting room in a small town and would take each person in that room and tell his story and then resolve back in the same waiting room on the same morning in the middle of the week, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of nothing, after having revealed the high drama, beauty and tragedy of each person's life. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout follows a similar premise. (Obviously the details are different.) The novel uses multiple short stories bound together to reveal the truths behind the lives of multiple people, including but not limited to Olive, in a small town in Maine.
Usually I don't like short stories or novels made up of short stories, but in this case the structure worked very well to provide the "slice of life" revelations of the characters' lives. I read Olive Kitteridge in January, so it's a little difficult to write about at this far a remove, but I do remember liking it as my favorite book thus far this year and would recommend it without hesitation. It isn't a long book, but there is a lot of life, love, beauty, sadness, tragedy, and triumph bundled into its small package.