Thursday, June 25, 2009

Prize Winner

Earlier in the year I've posted on "The Joy of Re-Reading" and on my audiobook experience of Olive Kitteridge, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year. Yesterday's Diane Rehm show ( has inspired me to re-read this particular book for a number of reasons. As I may have mentioned before, since I was listening to the book, I wasn't fully aware it was published not as a novel but as a collection of short stories. Since some of the stories only included the title character indirectly, I was reminded of some of the intercallary chapters of The Grapes of Wrath.

On the radio show yesterday, Diane and at least three other people were discussing the book. I was listening in the car and having to switch back and forth between two channels to counteract static of my pitiful car radio. At the end of the show, listeners who called in also had a chance to respond to the book. The discussion served to remind me why the book moved me so much. I also realized how quickly I forget whole sections of what I read, and how a good discussion serves to rekindle the memories of those parts. (That, I believe, is one of the advantages of participating with a book club).

One of the individuals in the discussion had also interviewed the author, Elizabeth Strout, and had asked her some of those lingering questions. She didn't answer them all because-perhaps--she didn't know all the answers to what happened after the stories' conclusions, but she did reveal that the girl who had to be rescued from falling into the water had not jumped. Since she made her up, she has a right to know.

Despite my backlog of books I want to read--some this summer, some before I die!--I know I will have to revisit Olive Kitteridge. I may have to push for my book club to adopt it. I will at least encourage a few more friends to read it then talk to me. I wonder if those who make the selection for the Pulitzer take into consideration a book's potential for re-reading.

As I've mentioned before, I am reading Pride and Prejudice again. (How many times now? Who knows?) This time, I'm putting together a publisher's Teacher's Guide. I've admitted before that even when I watch the movie, I have to stay to the end to be sure Elizabeth and Darcy get together--this time. I'm having a great time this go 'round with close reading. Despite the complaints of Lit students everywhere, a great book will bear up under scrutiny. That is the salvation of literature teachers everywhere who assign the classics (and future classics) semester after semester.

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