On Monday night I went with a colleague to hear Elizabeth Strout read from her Pulitzer Prize winning novel in stories, Olive Kitteridge, at an event at the New School. It was completely wonderful. She read for about 15 minutes, and even though it was from one of the stories I liked least (although I should say that I just ADORED this book) I was riveted, as was my colleague who had not read the book at all. In the Q&A section Ms. Strout was warm, honest, funny, and generous, even though this is surely her 1,903th reading in the last two years. She listened to and took an interest in each person who brought a book for her to sign.
For my money, Olive Kitteridge is one of the best books of the decade, if not THE best, and Strout is a true literary genius. If ever I get discouraged about the lack of recognition of women writers, or the very many mediocre books that are published (or not) each year, or the generally troubled waters of book publishing, I try to seek out events like this that will re-ignite my enthusiasm.
Mission accomplished, Ms Strout. Thanks for a great evening.