Anything Is Possible (Strout)

Anything Is Possible 
Elizabeth Strout, 2017
Random House
272 pp.
ISBN-13:
9780812989403


Summary
 An unforgettable cast of small-town characters copes with love and loss in this new work of fiction by #1 bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout.

Recalling Olive Kitteridge in its richness, structure, and complexity, Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others.

Here are two sisters: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband while the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life.

The janitor at the local school has his faith tested in an encounter with an isolated man he has come to help; a grown daughter longs for mother love even as she comes to accept her mother’s happiness in a foreign country; and the adult Lucy Barton (the heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton, the author’s celebrated New York Times bestseller) returns to visit her siblings after seventeen years of absence.

Reverberating with the deep bonds of family, and the hope that comes with reconciliation, Anything Is Possible again underscores Elizabeth Strout’s place as one of America’s most respected and cherished authors. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—January 6, 1956
Where—Portland, Maine, USA
Education—B.A., Bates College; J.D. and Certificate of Gerontology, Syracuse University
Awards—Pulitzer Prize
Currently—lives in Brooklyn, New York, and in Maine.


Elizabeth Strout is an American writer of fiction. She was born in Portland, Maine, and raised in small towns in Maine and New Hampshire. Her father was a science professor, and her mother taught high school.

After graduating from Bates College, Strout spent a year in Oxford, England, followed by studies at law school for another year. In 1982 she graduated with honors, and received both a law degree from the Syracuse University College of Law and a Certificate of Gerontology from the Syracuse School of Social Work. That year her first story was published in New Letters magazine.

Strout moved to New York City, and continued to write stories that were published in literary magazines, as well as in Redbook and Seventeen. It took her six or seven years to write Amy and Isabelle, which when published was shortlisted for the 2000 Orange Prize and nominated for the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. The novel was made into a television movie starring Elisabeth Shue and produced by Oprah Winfrey's studio, Harpo Films.

During the fall semsester of 2007, Strout was a NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) professor at Colgate University, where she taught creative writing at both the introductory and advanced level. She was also on the faculty of the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In 2009 Strout was honored with a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Olive Kitteridge (2008), a collection of connected short stories about a woman and her immediate family and friends on the coast of Maine. In 2010, Italian booksellers voted Olive Kitteridge and Strout as the winner of the Premio Bancarella award in the medieval Piazza della Repubblica in Pontremoli, Italy. Her new book, The Burgess Boys, was published in 2013.

Strout is married to former Maine Attorney General James Tierney, who currently serves as the Director of the National State Attorney General Program at Columbia Law School. She divides her time between New York and Maine. (From Wikipedia.)

Extras
From a 2006 Barnes & Noble interview:

• My first job was when I was about 12, cleaning houses in the afternoons for different elderly women in town. I hated it. I would be so bored scrubbing at some kitchen tile, that my mind would finally float all over the place, to the beach, to a friend's house...all this happened in my mind as I scrubbed those tiles, so it was certainly good for my imagination. But I did hate it."

• Without a doubt my mother was an inspiration for my writing. This is true in many ways, but mostly because she is a wonderful storyteller, without even knowing it. I would listen, as a child, when some friend of hers came to visit, and they would gossip about the different people they knew. My mother had the most fascinating stories about people's families, murderers, mental illnesses, babies abandoned, and she delivered it all in a matter-of-fact way that was terribly compelling. It made me believe that there was nothing more interesting than the lives of people, their real hidden lives, and this of course can lead one down the path of becoming a fiction writer.

• Later, in college, one of my favorite things was to go into town and sit at the counter at Woolworth's (so tragic to have them gone!) and listen to people talking; the waitresses and the customers — I loved it. I still love to eavesdrop, but mostly I like the idea of being around people who are right in the middle of their lives, revealing certain details to each other — leaving the rest for me to make up.

• I love theater. I love sitting in an audience and having the actors right there, playing out what it means to be a human being. There is something about the actual relationship that is going on between the audience and the actors that I just love. I love seeing the sets and costumes, the decisions that have been made about the staging...it's a place for the eye and the ear to be fully involved. I have always loved theater."

• I also like cell phones. What I mean by that is I hear many people complain about cell phones; they can't go anywhere without hearing someone on a cell phone, etc. But I love that chance to hear half a conversation, even if the person is just saying, ‘Hi honey, I'll be home in ten minutes, do you want me to bring some milk?' And I'm also grateful to have a cell phone, just to know it's there if I need it when I'm out and about. So I'm a cell phone fan.

• I don't especially like to travel, not the way many people do. I know many people that love to go to far-off and different places, and I've never been like that. I seem to get homesick as quickly as a child. I may like being in some new place for a few days, but then I want to go home and return to my routine and my familiar corner stores. I am a real creature of habit, without a doubt.

When asked what book most influenced her life as a writer, she answered:

Perhaps the book that had the greatest influence on my career as a writer was The Journals of John Cheever. Of course many, many books had influenced me before I read that, but there was something about the honesty found in Cheever's journals that gave me courage as a writer. And his ability to turn a phrase, to describe in a breath the beauty of a rainstorm or the fog rising off the river... all this arrived in my life as a writer at a time when I seemed ready to absorb his examples of what a sentence can do when written with the integrity of emotion and felicity of language.



Book Reviews
I was captivated by her compassion. Her characters, always, are flawed. They embarrass themselves. They do terrible, terrible things. They occasionally get caught. And, yet, Strout sits beside them to hear their stories. To understand how they got there. To give them a voice.… Run to your local independent bookstore, or wherever it is you buy books, and try not to fall victim to “the most common complaint of all,” which Strout identifies as, "Life had simply not been what she thought it would be." READ MORE …
Abby Fabiaschi - LiLovers


In Elizabeth Strout’s Anything Is Possible, her stunning follow-up to My Name Is Lucy Barton, a famous author returns to the Midwestern hometown of her childhood, touching off a daisy-chain of stories narrated by those who knew her—memories of trauma and goodwill, resentments small and large, and the ever-widening gulf between haves and have-nots. Strout, always good, just keeps getting better.
Vogue


If you miss the charmingly eccentric and completely relatable characters from Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout’s best-selling My Name Is Lucy Barton, you’ll be happily reunited with them in Strout’s smart and soulful Anything Is Possible.
Elle


(Starred review.) [M]asterful storytelling. Damaged lives can be redeemed but, as [Strout] eloquently demonstrates in this powerful, sometimes shocking, often emotionally wrenching novel, the emotional scars can last forever.
Publishers Weekly


(Starred review.)  With her latest work, Pulitzer Prize winner Strout (for Olive Kitteridge) crafts a deep and complex inside view of the hearts and minds of individuals who make up a community. —Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence
Library Journal


(Starred review.) [R]adiant.… The epic scope within seemingly modest confines recalls Strout's Pulitzer Prize winner, Olive Kitteridge, and her ability to discern vulnerabilities buried beneath bad behavior is as acute as ever. Another powerful examination of painfully human ambiguities and ambivalences.
Kirkus Reviews



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