24 April 2009

Olive Kitteridge (Elizabeth Strout)



I have just finished Olive Kitteridge, the novel which just won the Pulitzer. It is amazingly meh. Don't get me wrong, it's very well written. The character of Olive is nicely developed. She has enormous flaws and a grating voice that seems to jump off the page and gnaw at your eardrums yet the reader still feels a great liking and empathy for her.

But ye gods, where is the originality? Where is the x-factor? Where (at the risk of sounding like Billy Flynn) is the pizazz?

I also take issue with the plot, or lack thereof. NOTHING HAPPENS. Everything is alluded to, but no events really ever actually take place. As soon as something interesting is about to happen Strout skips ahead and has her characters looking back at the interesting event. Of course, said interesting event will have been traumatic so the characters don't allow themselves to remember it properly and instead we just get fragments that slip through their emotional defenses. I was sitting there mentally screaming at the book: "Have a meltdown. CRACK. PPLLLEEAASSEE. Emotionally purge yourself. Scream at a person passing by in the street. ANYTHING. I just need to know what's happening!"

There are so many characters as well that I got confused. I would read it again for clarification, but I can't be bothered. I think there may have been two Kevins. Either that or poor old Kevin had one hell of a time.

However, I am about a quarter of the way through The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich, which was one of the runners-up and it is MARVELLOUS. So a favourable review should follow shortly, unless Erdrich drops the ball halfway through.

Rating: 7/10.
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