Saturday, August 15, 2009

Big bursts and little bursts

Just finished reading Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I didn't go ga-ga over it like many people told me I would but I found Strout's treatment of middle-aged and/or elderly, middle-class couples quite fascinating. Reading Olive made me think (and worry) about marriage and aging in a way that I had never considered before. It also made me think about some of the long-term relationships I have observed in my life: my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I think that when a book makes you look inward and has you guessing about your own experiences, that's a pretty good sign it's a book worth reading. Not always, but most of the time. So, I'm happy I read Olive even though I didn't particularly enjoy the process of reading it. I will leave you with a passage that really struck a chord with me:

Olive's private view is that life depends on what she thinks of as "big bursts" and "little bursts". Big bursts are things like marriage or children, intimacies that keep you afloat, but these big bursts hold dangerous, unseen currents. Which is why you need the little bursts as well: a friendly clerk at Bradlee's, let's say, or the waitress at Dunkin' Donuts who knows how you life your coffee. Tricky business.


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