Friday Reads is when different assistants and editors tell us what they’re loving that they’re reading this week. Commence the deliciousness.
Right now, I am reading Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Though I try not to make a habit of spending time with any book that has been hailed by The Oprah Magazine, Strout’s novel of interlocking stories has proven itself to be as rich and luminous as its recommender claimed it would be. The thirteen stories in the collection work together to paint a full portrait the story’s singular title character, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher whose ruthless honesty and wit is unlike any other character I’ve encountered in literature. The stories work not only to allow the reader to see and understand Olive and her little town of Crosby, Maine, but also to give insight into the conflicts, tragedies, and joys of the human condition. I’m only halfway through the novel, but I already feel certain Olive Kitteridge is not a character I will soon forget.
Sarah Dean (Editorial Assistant) is reading The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury.
Every October, I read The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury because, honestly, what else could be more appropriate during this month? Eight boys, on a quest to save their friend Pip, wind their way through an All Hallows’ Eve adventure, led by a mysterious figure, Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud (By far my favorite name in all of literature. As Moundshroud asks of his name, “Does that have a ring, boys? Does it sound for you?”). At times playful and at times sinister – much like Halloween itself – The Halloween Tree is a jack-o-lantern of a novel, lit from within by a soft glow of magic and mirth. Bradbury invites us, curls his finger towards us, and bids us inside haunted worlds of Halloweens from long ago. The prose slinks; it prowls, evoking the sensation that for now – on this night – anything, anything at all, is possible. But, of course, as we and Bradbury and Moundshroud and our eight heroes know, anything at all is possible on Halloween.
“So Much Water So Close to Home” – from What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, by Raymond Carver.
David Ryan assigned this short story for his Studies in Form class. The story is shown through the perspective of the wife and how she reacts to her husband. He and his buddies fail to immediately report a dead body because they don’t wan it to interfere with their fishing trip. The men have nothing to hide but their stupidity, but Claire does not trust that they didn’t have something to do with the young woman’s murder. This story is a reflection on marriage and how the person you are closest to can become a complete stranger. It is a story about the primal fear of death and the desire for self-preservation.