Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Author Elizabeth Strout's read on fiction in the information age
Elizabeth Strout, author of Pulizer-Prize winning "Olive
Kitteridge" will discuss the relationship between the reader and the writer at
the University of Denver Tuesday.
(Photograph copyright Jerry
. Facebook. Foursquare.
Smartphones. Reality TV. Talk radio. Tablets. Tumblr. Pinterest. So much
unfiltered truth lobbed into our lives, so quickly filling our free time with
demands for fiddling.
No better time for fiction, reasons
Elizabeth Strout, whose lovely, lean novel "Olive Kitteridge" won the 2009
Pulitzer Prize for literature.
As Strout works on her fourth book, drafts
of which are piled around her home in New York, she has become fascinated by the
role of fiction in contemporary life and the relationship between reader and
She'll tackle the topic Tuesday night at
the University of Denver during The Denver Post's sold-out Pen & Podium
lecture series and gave us a preview by cellphone.
Why does fiction still matter?
think it matters because it's one of the few places where we can glimpse what it
might feel like to be another person. It is the way we are going to stay
civilized and I don't mean it in a dippy way. If it is written with enough
authority that we can sink into it, it can remove us from the whirlwind, give us
another rhythm and the chance to be more contemplative. At least I see it in
that way. There is so much "stuff" now. And more. And more and more coming at us
in all directions. To an extent, that can't be helped, but it is nice to have it
"Olive Kitteridge" is a novel composed of linked short stories. Was there
something liberating in approaching the book and the development of the uniting
character, Olive, this way?
did free me up, which is the dream of the fiction writer: To find a way to be
freed up. So much time is spent trying to find that. I didn't write the book in
order. The first story I wrote is the one at her son's wedding. When I wrote
that, I really had her. I got it. Let's see what I can do with her. We always
think we know somebody, but we don't. What's it like to be Olive's student, her
neighbor, somebody who just passes her on the street, or someone who is much
closer to her, like her son? I was turning that around all the time, to see her
from different angles.