Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Book Club

You need to go out and read Olive Kitteridge.  That wasn't our book club book for Friday night, it was Free Food for Millionaires, which is a really good book, but Olive is much better.  There's not much more praise I can heap on top of a book after it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

I kept getting biting my tongue back at dinner, trying not to talk about Olive, who the two other consistent readers had not read (but I think I convinced them to and passed it along to one of them just to make sure).  I have never read a novel that revealed a character quite like Elizabeth Strout did Olive - in beautiful short stories.  And the author's prose was so powerful that although I finished it a couple of weeks ago, phrases keep drifting in and out of my consciousness throughout the day.  The author's knowledge and expression of the depth and range of human emotion and empathy was staggering.  Sometimes the simple clarity of her words hit me over the head like a bludgeon.

Whenever I read a novel that I love so much, I have trouble moving on, because anything new invariably sucks compared to the last one.  So rather than pick something that has any chance of hope for comparison, I wait a few days, and then intentionally stray toward something light and fluffy - brain candy.  Brain candy is also ideal after big tests, like medicine, residency, and fellowship boards.  It acts a bit like an eraser, to prepare me once again for substance.

So I won't tell you what I am reading this week - it's too embarrassing.  I won't be suggesting it for the next book club.

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