Information by Elizabeth Strout
- Elizabeth Strout talks about her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Olive Kitteridge, which links 13 stories about the life of a seventh-grade math teacher and wife of a pharmacist living in Maine. WNYC; May 22, 2009
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" The winner of this year's Pulitzer prize for fiction is Olive Kitteridge, novel by Elizabeth Stroud it's a collection of thirteen lead stories that revolve around different hard math teacher and a small town. On the coast to mean. It's published by random house and I'm very pleased sentence brought -- route mr. route back to the show today --"
" Hi it's nice to be here again thanks tells about the character. Can courage from one engine makers. Rather unsympathetic. At first she's angry opinion needed -- also large and physically awkward."
" Well she appeared to me that way in the first story that I -- is not the first story in the collection but I saw her. Originally standing by with a picnic table at her son's wedding feeling that it's really time everybody went home. And once I have that image and it just kind of came out and I realized that she was. Large awkward opinion dated has deep. Pain that she was going to respond to an impulsive ways and she just was there and I kept telling myself because I was writing tests. Book that this -- tales of I kept thinking don't be careful to myself I kept because there was a sense of almost. Wanting to protect her or to protect the reader or something and I thought no I'm doing something truthful here in some way and I need to. To let let ago that letter better rip."
" She's a seventh grade math teacher. Is the issue -- it all on the teacher you have no no I just wanted her to be."
" Someone who news that children need a history of everybody in town the way in a small town and a woman who it taught for many years with no agreed to and you -- the."
" Wrote this as a series of short stories -- it's been described as a novel in stories. Did you conceive of it is enough or we did you just write this the stories say I'm in love with the -- I'm gonna do another one doesn't find yourself doing thirteen of them."
" I think. Either novel or story is I just -- all of book. I I kept thinking I'm gonna write a book that belongs to all of and I didn't understand that it would be in story form because that's how she appeared to me she's such force that she seemed."
" Need an episodic kind of way and -- two different but I did know that she was gonna have her own but."
" But how soon before you realize that it can also would involve kind of -- narrative. I began to it -- Forgive me for interrupting you but I have want to follow them equipment. All all the books to some degree -- collection on novels -- collection of short stories of that tax matters and but there is a difference between feeling that chapter can be published separately right. And -- chapter is just the next step in in the telling of the story."
" These these can stand on their own which is what a story hopefully continue. And it interested me because I wanted to talk -- wanted to write not only about all of -- about the town she's a part of a town and -- I was very into I'm fascinated by. But the way we look at each other in a community and we think we know somebody but of course we only know them from that particular sliced. And so it was fun to move the camera around and and give everybody in town at a different version -- and their forget their readers to conversion upon."
" In fact even -- the book is called isle of scooter should really is a portrait of this and hard. And it's been compared to two Sherwood Anderson's ones burg Ohio. I don't know if that was in the back here has."
" Well it's -- consciously in the back may have but I must tell you when I first went to college my very first English class I was introduced to them -- was thrilled to find I was thrilled by -- So I'm sure it sits there like golf things since."
" One month Wikipedia has a list of all the characters in the book and it comes to something like 100 and -- Interesting I didn't. But I am glad that things and writing stories allows you to do if you're writing a novel use it right printing money in is another -- and here I ain't right."
" So it was it was it was enjoyable like I said to. To sort of move around and and let aunt -- center stage when I felt like she needed it which just rather often."
" Also you. You have a lot of interior monologues here and it does have worked better within the short story form."
" That's a good question I can't. How it's more what -- it's more how it feels when I'm doing it in the particular moment that I'm working -- and and so if it's if it feels true to the form in the narrative voice."
" Then I I think you will work."
" I think novels require. Well they require whatever they require for their particular noble --"
" My guest is Elizabeth Stroud whose novel -- kick coverage. Won the Pulitzer prize this year it was also named one of the best books of the year by. The Washington Post book world USA today's -- chronicle Chicago Tribune because on and on and on. And it is just been made available by random house in a trade paperback. And like your other novels that takes place in Maine. When I last spoke to you you were living in park slope and now you live in Manhattan. But I I I remember asking you whether this kind of story could beat holed about a neighborhood like park slope."
" Which functions to some degree like as a small town certainly does. I think this particular book is very connected to place I think that all of cartridges very much and main character. I think a -- almost as a Barnicle clinging to that rock. That she calls her home and is I'm afraid of the changes that are sweeping over her so in certain ways it's very specific to Maine into the main character but I think the emotions and psychological truth I would hope are some universal. Is it easier to write about Maine -- you know that there I think absolutely it is yes. Cut down I think I've I've lived in New York 25 years doesn't pick up my life has now in New York. And I think in the specs but that does actually start to take place partly in New York's time I'm moving my way down the --"
" Well I remember talking to the decree that Chilean red I was in an -- who spent most of his life. In living in exile in Madrid writing about it's Santiago Chile. And he said when he went back he was horrified because -- government decides it so much. Nobody can accuse you of romanticizing. The main. Most New Yorkers think of Maine is beautiful and picturesque exactly had to have my visit there in the summer that's not the main unit depicted his abdomen and writing about -- and so of what what pisses me like it to deter us every show in towns like the one you've invented a Crosby. Yes. They do."
" And I think the last chapter at the last story it makes more mention of the summer people that have moved there and retired for good and and house summoned my collar feels about pattern has some of."
" The original members of the town feel -- this changes in more and more people to discover the beauty of meaning and make it there. Their home particularly its its retired people so we -- here largely is the dark side of me in the long winter's a struggle to make a modest living claustrophobia of a small town. Where everyone knows everyone else's business. I think there is an aspect of Maine they're there really isn't it was very interesting to move to New York and have so many people send me a lineup Maine and then they would describe. You know where they go for two weeks this summer and and coming from. Maine -- for many generations of Maine and having grown up there and having grown up at a time working in a little country store."
" Done New York license plates are still orange remember that and -- and we sort of understood that if an orange license plate came into the parking lot of this tiny little start. They might be asking for a -- a hundred dollars to be -- we probably had twenty dollars and register. So it's it's an interesting thing and found the two different worlds for me."
" Most of the stories are about marriage and family about the ways in which husbands and wives navigate decades of marriage -- How children and parents become estranged. Is -- a place where people are defined as much profoundly as by their profession in New York you're more likely. To think of the person first by where he or she works right what they do."
" That's a very good question I think that it. That's probably true that people in main arm arm more concerned with their. Definition being in where they fall in their family and what your relationship to their family is and how the family works as much as there. Career or job well -- and."
" Her husband Henry -- a pharmacist. Have an interesting merited don't seem to be much alike and some people in town wonder whether and what Henry even sees an olive. You think they're a lot of couples like. I mean -- who knows I if there is small town. I just don't really know I think marriage is one of those enduring mysteries. Even to -- participants. So it's it would be very difficult for me to say. Weathered -- you know their -- many marriages to. How different types apparently is. And confuse outsiders I think as to why they're together and work to some extent. Or not the business a fair amount of violence in the stories suicide. Hunting accident hostage situation. But emotion in the real damage is more emotional ground physical command end and that he's always been and you army and team hasn't had that's true. That's true in the past I would ask you about why it took you so long to. Produce the books because if there were big gaps between them contain. Amy Amy and Isabel and abide with me. But. And and they also won a fair amount of awards over the years."
" This one came quicker it did partly that's because some of the stories I had worked on earlier. On but it's also because I I get something I hadn't done before. Which was to rented cottage in Provincetown Massachusetts for the summer and I knew that this -- book needed to be tan and I just."
" Went there there was would you call it the island -- yes yes. And I I went there and there was no news TV there was never any others. Only the wonderful biography of Graham Greene and so every time I stepped back into that cottage after visiting friends are running -- that's up there with all of."
" And it was a very intense experience and over the course of a number of weeks during that summer this book emerged and it with. With Exxon posting an exhilarating."
" Although in some of these stories -- appears on the -- for a yes -- that was that was a break for the rear -- from me. Doesn't have another title in some additions on the coast to me."
" I'm not sure -- it mean I don't know I think I I don't know my uterus and Alex carruthers yes."
" Yes it's it was -- which pretend I was looking -- the of the winners of the Pulitzer prize. In in recent years. Only a few women despite the fact that we have so many wonderful women writing these days then. You -- that that makes is under even more."
" Incredible. I'm very pleased to have -- I'm saying is."
" Well I was surprised you know yeah I can I realized from no matter what happens people say. Both prize winning novelist Russia. As its interest and sent me down -- Britain Europe the first line of therapy to him. -- okay. -- you -- in -- convinced I you were in the -- now I am I'm I'm finishing up the planet revision a large margin and it's an album it's an opera with the traditional path so does that take longer because you'd. Because in in this case you can disable this is this is complete as historian -- Don't have to worry about. How -- links the next chapter."
" It's me probably about three years to write this this last -- of course is not yet done because the revision will go on for some time but. It was kind of liberating after having lived with all of them and having had an intense experience of."
" Of working so precisely and it was liberating to get them to New York to start to."
" Draw some of the landscape of New York having lived here long enough to finally feel that it hasn't."
" in tune into my sells enough that I probably lived in New York longer than you have to me while I'm 53 so not quite -- half and almost half and half anniversary years and counting on the net to. I don't know lining their -- Everybody's constantly when you see going to revisions you of those people who. The rights of a big messy book ending goes back and tries to make -- Niederauer then makes -- mess a year because it bosses about the things -- well I I -- constantly so I I tend to just I enjoy it in all right a few pages and I don't look at it later that might not think a -- accidents that the other thing."
" So I'm constantly revising that this type of revisions a little bit of a different process because."
" This is really now coming to use the point where I need to make sure it. Works out that that's. Different kind of revision."
" Elizabeth Stroud is the author of -- by -- which who has a national best seller also -- is built. Which one in the number of awards she's been finalists for the pen Faulkner award in the -- prize in England. -- stories have been published in many magazines including the New Yorker and her latest book. Which is a novel. With thirteen stories depending on how you want to describe it. He is all of can average now available in paperback from random house winner of the Pulitzer prize here. Thank you so much for being with -- thank you ethnic tension thanks for listening to WNYC on demand please check out the other programs at wnyc.org. Or on iTunes. This is a free service. Made available by our listeners. Become a member of WNYC today."
- Elizabeth Strout talks about Olive Kitteridge and reveals how a class in stand-up comedy helped her as a writer. Writers on the Record: Victoria Lautman; April 20, 2008
- Elizabeth Strout recommends 'Suite Francaise' by Irene Nemirovsky - summary and part of the recommended book. NPR; July 18, 2006 (2:44)
- Elizabeth Strout talks about the relation between author and reader. SwissEduc: Provincetown, MA; June 10, 2006 (Real 1:42)
- Elizabeth Strout reads from "Abide With Me" and answers questions. Prairie Lights; April 10, 2006 (Real 59:02)