I’m afraid to look…

I have, over the years, waxed ecstatic over books by Elizabeth Strout. Chiefly My Name is Lucy Barton, Olive Kitteridge, and Olive, Again. I love these three books and I have read and re-read them.

Here is a list of books by Elizabeth Strout:

  • Amy and Isabelle (1998)
  • Abide with Me (2006)
  • Olive Kitteridge (2008)
  • The Burgess Boys (2013)
  • My Name Is Lucy Barton (2016)
  • Anything is Possible (2017)
  • Olive, Again (2019)
  • Oh William! (2021)
  • Lucy by the Sea (2022)

I have read all of them. I have liked only the three I mentioned in the first paragraph. The last two were particularly disappointing. Very disappointing. She seems to have acquired a stylistic tic in Oh, William and carried over into Lucy By the Sea that is so annoying and off-putting I wanted to smack someone.

Characters in earlier books show up in later books – the stories are linked (except for the Olive books).  Bob Burgess from The Burgess Boys is all over Lucy By the Sea and quite frankly The Burgess Boys was a total snore and bore. But even Olive is name checked because – wait for it – Lucy Barton is now in Maine.

I don’t care that all her books are linked – and you don’t really have to read them all in order to make sense of them except – the latest two – Oh William and Lucy By The Sea.

Here’s my dilemma – this new style tic – is it really new or did she have it in her other books? It is so annoying to me that I am afraid to go back to the books I loved and find out. Because if this “tic” is not new but was used in her other books then it will totally ruin what I have loved.

Being me I just stopped typing and pulled My Name is Lucy Barton off the bookshelf and leafed through it quickly. I found no evidence of this new style tic but I can see where it was waiting in the wings (so to speak) to make an appearance in these last two books. I would go check Olive, Again since it is more recent than Lucy Barton, but it would break my heart if I found it there.

I’m sure you know that I stopped typing (again) and got Olive, Again off the shelf and started leafing through it. This book is still freakin’ brilliant and I quickly fell under its spell again.

And no style tic was found.

While reading Lucy By the Sea I developed a dislike for Lucy Barton. A dislike that started in Oh William. Turns out I don’t like the person Lucy Barton became, and maybe if I go back to the first Lucy Barton book I will see the seeds of this person who I now dislike.  Isn’t that funny.

In the latest book Strout makes mention that Olive is in an old age home, perhaps suffering from dementia, I don’t remember the detail. Which means Strout can’t write another book about Olive and ruin her for me.

I think I can safely dump all the Elizabeth Strout books I have on my shelf (which is all of them) and just keep the Olive books.

I no longer like Lucy Barton, as a person, or Elizabeth Strout as a writer.

So there –


Happy thing day

I’m not a holiday person, none of them – no reason for them except – I don’t know – economic gain? There’s money to be made on every single “holiday” including Veterans Day. I don’t mind people making a buck or two but please be honest about it.

Christmas of course is the most greed-driven holiday – it boggles my mind. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I try to stay out of it, truly I do. I just can’t get past the excess. And the seeming entitlement. And the blackmail. And the coercion. And the hypocrisy.

Interestingly enough, I think most people acknowledge all those aspects. And choose to ignore them. Having given in; succumbed to the blackmail,  having drunk the kool-aid. I don’t know how people justify the excess of XMas.

I’ve nothing against gift-giving. Gift-giving is one of the great pleasures of my life.  I dislike boasters, braggarts and pat-my-own-back-ers but I have to say I am a primo gift giver. If I give someone a gift I usually put a lot of thought into it. I don’t give mindless gifts for mindless reasons. It’s your birthday? Have a happy. Feeling a little down and blue? Here’s one of those scented candles you like so much to help lighten your mood.

I guess what bothers me is folks like me are vilified, that’s really much to strong a word but I’ll let it stand, because we don’t play the game. Scrooge, Grinch (I’ve no idea what the Grinch is about but I gather it/he/she is not very nice) – spoilsports – we are not the negative ones. We are the honest ones, the generous ones, the kind ones because we give from our hearts not from our guilt.

If you wish to emphasize, for one specific day, kindness then do that – be kind. If for some reason you assigned a religious meaning to one specific day, then go to church. Whatever you do don’t guilt yourself, or anyone else, into being a hypocrite. Or into being in debt. Or stressed and exhausted.  Get a backbone. Grow a set of balls. Tell your own truth not the one that has been handed down through generations of guilt and greed and hypocrisy.

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No, everybody doesn’t…

Everybody:  knows, thinks, says, feels, wants, likes, dislikes, etc. – on and on. And that irks me. That bit of word usage. What would you call it – a generalization?  Well I don’t like it. It’s lazy. It’s dismissive (“Well, everybody knows that” – said with a sneer. “Well no they don’t” said equally sneeringly.)

Don’t get me wrong – I am just as guilty of this as the next person. Sweeping statements of preferences and prejudices. Little Suzie Know-it-all. I’ve been that/her.

On the not so negative side of that – I think/have thought that everybody (here it goes!) is just like me. Just as flawed, just as fucked up. They aren’t of course. People are – flawed and fucked up – but each in their own way.

And I still don’t know what the hell the thing is that someone told me everybody knows…

My favorite

photos seem to be reflections. Or – for some reason those scenes are the ones that capture my attention.

If you live in an apartment building, unless you have a corner apartment, you will have windows on only one side of your apartment. Lucky for me my view is of trees and sky and only incidentally, if I look down, the parking lot.

I was looking out the window, on the look-out for the Giant food delivery truck when I was struck by the reflections on this silver car – long distance lens caught this –

The reflection of the building in the rear window, the trees reflected on the roof and then, after I downloaded the photo I noticed trees also reflected on the roof of the car parked to the right of the silver car.

I guess the light was just right but the more closely I looked the more reflections I saw.

I am fascinated by reflections…

In the immortal words of

Roseanne Roseannadanna “It’s always something. If it’s not one thing it’s another.”

Everybody’s got to die of something –

What’s that Woody Allen joke “You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.

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