Anything is Possible

October 2017 – Barbara

Barbara’s Pick
October 2017

Anything Is Possible
Elizabeth Strout
Penguin Random House

Native New Englander Elizabeth Strout seems to love a short story. Not really surprising, since she won a Pulitzer Prize for her last collection, Olive Kittredge. She also seems to grow very attached to her characters, sometimes carrying them or the town they live in into subsequent fiction. Such is the case for this new short-story collection, Anything Is Possible.

Anything Is Possible takes the reader back to Amgash, Illinois—which Strout’s last book, My Name Is Lucy Barton, introduced the reader to—and tells the stories of some of the other characters in the surrounding area. You don’t have to have read Lucy Barton to appreciate the craft in these nine stories; they are spare but elegantly written, not happy but somehow comforting.

There’s no real theme to the collection; some of the characters’ issues include depression, voyeurism, homosexuality, and surviving war. Again, not lighthearted subjects, but somehow Strout manages to sympathetically convey the characters’ worth.

If you enjoy reading stories that make you think, this collection is worth your attention.