Saturday, April 29, 2017

Anything Is Possible

Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

I'm in awe each time I read one of Elizabeth Strout's novels; such moving, insightful words that effortlessly flow page after page to the delight of her readers. Her latest collection of short stories is no exception.

You'll meet a janitor who lost his home in a sweeping fire, but didn't lose faith in humanity.  Reaching out to a troubled soul, he dares to unlock a secret that somehow,  just by revealing it to a lonely neighbor, transforms his view of the world and the existence of a higher power.

Then there are the sisters who choose different paths as adults. One, trading her dignity and self-respect for a guaranteed life of wealth and affluence. The other, finding words of wisdom in the pages of a book that give her the courage to ask for forgiveness after her hurtful words, spoken in anger, shatter a defiant teenager.

And a successful, weary grandfather who can't fathom the "ungraspable concept of time going by". An unlikely encounter with a has-been, eccentric actor opens his eyes to facing painful memories with a new perspective, while at the same time, facing a brush with death.

These stories and more are told flawlessly by the author of Olive Kitteridge, The Burgess Boys, and My Name is Lucy Barton.  The main character in the latter one is effortlessly weaved into the nine stories throughout this latest release. Readers can easily follow along, even if they haven't read that particular book, although I highly recommend taking the time to check it out. Lucy is now a successful author, having escaped the confines of her small town, Amgash, Illinois, where many of these rich characters still live, haunted by past sins, and the shame of poverty.

 Stout's interpretation of life is at times hopeful, other times, overwhelmingly sad. But in the end, it's her thought-provoking words and signature prose that make her novels a pleasure to read.