Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

4.5 Stars

I own a t-shirt that pretty much expresses the reason why it took me so long to read this book . . . .

There’s really no reason why either. I seriously think the title and cover were both so “meh” to me that I just assumed I wouldn’t like it and I’m generally not a blurb reader so I didn’t even bother with that. That’s stupid too, because I have a pretty good track record when it comes to enjoying Pulitzer Prize winners. And as far as Oprah Book Club books are concerned? Well . . . . .

#noshame #drinkdatoprahkoolaid

Whatever the cause, I had passively avoided this for over a decade and probably would have continued to do so if I hadn’t stumbled upon my friend Debbie’s pogo-sticking review of the original and seeing post upon post about the soon-to-be-released sequel. I decided to go ahead and pick it up since it was handily available at the downtown library. I had no idea that nearly every moment (except for hopefully the smacky ones) spent with Olive would have me saying . . . .

Aside for one second when I thought she might be debra . . . .

“Let me tell you, that idiot ex-cocaine-addict was never a cowboy. He can wear all the cowboy hats he wants. He’s a spoiled brat to the manor born. And he makes me puke.”

I don’t think I’ve ever related to a character as much as I did this one. As the blurb states – at its core this is a book about the human condition. It’s presented in the form known as a composite novel or a short story cycle . . . .

Where vignettes regarding various townsfolk throughout various periods of time all intertwine to paint a larger story. Olive is either a featured or bit player in each of them. Gruff at best or downright cold and brittle at worst, even Olive’s family find her hard and unfeeling, but as the reader gets to know her they discover it’s because she has extreme difficulty expressing her feelings or interacting with others period. Don’t know if she’s for you? Here’s a little taste . . . .

“My God, you do have the passions and the prejudices of a peasant.”

“That’s it. At least I’m not prejudiced against homosexuals.”

“No, just white men with money.”

Damn right, she thought.

And this snippet from my favorite entry of the entire book – “Basket of Trips:”

“I’ve been thinking about killing Kerry.” She raises a hand from her lap and exposes a small paring knife lying on her green flowered dress.

“Oh,” says Olive.

Marlene bends over the sleeping Kerry and touches the woman’s bare neck. “Isn’t this some major vein?” she asks, and puts the knife flat against Kerry’s neck, even poking slightly at the vague throbbing of the pulse there.

“Yuh. Okay. Might want to be a little careful there.” Olive sits forward.

In a moment Marlene sighs, sits back. “Okay, here.” And she hands the paring knife to Olive.

“Do better with a pillow,” Olive tells her. “Cut her throat, there’s going to be a lot of blood.”

I’m giving this 4.5 Stars rather than all 5 simply for the fact that not every entry was as perfectly perfect perfection as the aforementioned.

P.S. This was a book while reading that played like a movie in my head . . . but due to the format I wasn’t sure how well it would translate. Apparently it translated pretty well a few years ago because it won all of the Emmys . . . .

I will say that, despite Frances McDormand being pretty much a god to me, that I pictured someone else as Olive . . . .

I’m going to have to track down the miniseries.

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