Elizabeth Strout's "Olive Kitteridge" Wins Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Elizabeth Strout has won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel "Olive Kitteridge," a discontinuous narrative (a bunch of linked short stories) about a 7th grade math teacher in small town New England.

Get ready to discuss this book with your mom and her book club friends.

You get 10 grand for winning a Pulitzer. The book has to be about America somehow.

I haven't read "Olive Kitteridge," nor have I ever heard of it before. It's hard to say anything about a book you haven't read, but I think this book is a difficult sales proposition: "Hey, you want to read about the private strife and anxiety of that junior high math teacher that you hate so much, the flinty obese lady all full of bitterness, rage, and contempt, the one that made you hate math forever, which is why now you are poor and useless to the World of Science and Business?"

Maybe I do and maybe I don't. Of course, the only reason I would read such a book would be for medicinal purposes. Some kind of enema of the soul to purge myself of my own sins.

Here are the other finalists, according to the official citation:

"Also nominated as finalists in this category were: "The Plague of Doves" by Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins), a haunting novel that explores racial discord, loss of land and changing fortunes in a corner of North Dakota where Native Americans and whites share a tangled history; and "All Souls" by Christine Schutt (Harcourt), a memorable novel that focuses on the senior class at an exclusive all-girl Manhattan prep school where a beloved student battles a rare cancer, fiercely honest, carefully observed and subtly rendered."

Maybe I am a horrible person, but these selections all seem like the books you have to read in 7th grade. You know, they come in "class sets" and each one has a number written in magic marker on the top left front cover. You have to turn them back in when the unit on "novels" is done.

You have to discuss themes, characterization, irony, and metaphor. Every time you are called on to speak you get a point. You have to get ten points to get an A. You have to write a two-page essay at the end of the six weeks and you can't write in pen. "Discuss how Olive changes over the course of the novel and what she learns from her life experiences. Compare and contrast her experience to the life journeys of either Tom Joad or Macbeth."

Reading these books, you start to hate literature.

Even if you do still like books, you start to avoid the Pulitzer Prize winners at all costs if you can help it. You only read cheap romance novels. You turn to drugs. You get pregnant. You end up working at Denny's and dealing meth out of the kitchen. You abuse your kid and your boyfriend abuses your kid even worse. The kid grows up and becomes a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist for her book about race relations in Montana during the 1960's. At night, she eats huge plates of greasy eggs and undercooked bacon from shitty New York diners and weeps...

Posted by miracle on Tue, 21 Apr 2009 19:52:39 -0400 -- permanent link

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