Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

In this series of short stories, schoolteacher Olive Kitteridge is sometimes the storyteller, sometimes a major character in someone else's story, and occasionally a mere walk-through in a story mostly unrelated to her.

It's an interesting way to present a person's life - a multi-faceted approach that defies self-definition, familial ties, and even your own best intentions to form a more rounded characterization. It's both a skewed, yet very fair way to encounter the whole person - the good, the bad and the ugly. And Olive's a character full of all those things.

Strout's storytelling is rich with visualization and description. It's an easy story to get lost in, and well-deserving of the accolades the book has won. We discussed it for book club, but I found I'd gotten something slightly different from the experience by having listened to the audiobook. Sandra Burr's vocalization was a real addition to the text - and I found several parts hilariously funny where others in the group had not seen a comic undertone.

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