Olive Kitteridge is Elizabeth Strout’s collection of short-stories-as-novel that won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. The stories are set in the small town of Crosby, Maine, and crabby Olive Kitteridge makes an appearance – even if brief – in each of them.
The stories are well executed, creative, and peopled with varied but realistic characters. Individually, many of them are emotionally striking. Strout can really get to the nub of a story.
The problem is that as a collection, the stories are exhausting. Crosby may not be the bloodbath that Cabot Cove is, but there are plenty of suicides, grisly murders, violent and petty crimes, adultery, abuse, sickness, brutal deaths, and dysfunction to dampen any reader’s spirits. None of the characters are happy and there is precious little humor to leaven the depressing tales.
Caroline Bookbinder (Carin liked it much more than I did and named it her 2009 Book of the Year)
(If you would like your review listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.)
This was my Pulitzer pick for the Battle of the Prizes, American Version challenge. I read Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann -- another collection of short-stories-as-novel -- for my National Award pick. The challenge runs through the end of January 2011, so there is still time to sign up.
Pulitzer winners. For others doing the same, please visit my main Pulitzer Prize post and leave a comment with a link to your related posts.