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Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
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Anything Is Possible

by Elizabeth Strout

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Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
Holperiger Schreibstil. Sehr verwirrend. Zu viele Leute. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Apr 7, 2019 |
This is one of the best books I've ever read. Listened to it on audible and just bought the book. ( )
  KellyFordon | Mar 6, 2019 |
I'm not sure how satisfying this book would be if you hadn't recently read Lucy Barton.

I read Lucy Barton two years ago, and I don't really remember too much other than she had a bad childhood and became a writer. So much of this new novel revolves around the people in the periphery of Lucy's life. While well written, this quasi short story collection doesn't really hold up on its own. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
This is one of the saddest books I've ever read. The book is a series of interconnecting stories that take place in hardscrabble Amgash, Illinois, the hometown of Mary Barton, the heroine of Strout's last novel. The characters are mostly decent and hard-working, but also all dealing with some sense of profound loss.

There's Lucy’s brother, Pete, and sister, Vicky who are emotionally stunted by their parents' cruelty; the janitor who let Lucy study after school in heated classrooms; Abel Blaine, who taught Lucy to search in the Dumpster behind the bakery for food; and Lucy herself, who after years of absence tries to visit her hometown and her siblings with less than successful results.

trout paints a vivid picture of what it's like to be isolated and poor in small town America. It's one I won't soon forget. ( )
  etxgardener | Oct 30, 2018 |
Elizabeth Strout is not a new novelist to me. I previously read Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys; however I did not read My Name is Lucy Barton, the novel that immediately preceded Anything Is Possible. It is not exactly a sequel, but it does feature Lucy Barton as one of the characters. Set in and around Barton’s home town of Amgash, Illinois (somewhere between Chicago and Rockford, Illinois), it is a novel told in a series of interconnected stories, each featuring a tale of small-town life that often illuminates a profound truth.

I could especially relate to the opening chapter as it begins with the description of a dairy farm and I grew up in a small town surrounded by dairy farms. The chapter tells of Tommy Guptill, who had once owned a dairy farm that burned to the ground, possibly as a result of arson. Instead of being shattered by the loss of his home and livelihood, Guptill sees the fire as a spiritual omen: “It was not in Tommy’s nature to regret things and on the night of the fire – in the midst of his galloping fear – he understood that all that mattered in the world were his wife and children and he thought that people lived their whole lives not knowing this as sharp and constantly as he did.”

Strout is often able to convey both the detail of individual character and that character’s broader understanding of life all while still maintaining an easy rhythm and economy of expression. Her style is all the more powerful for its understatement, and reminded me of both John Steinbeck and Anne Tyler – two other great observers of the interaction between internal and external landscapes, who also appreciate the value of simplicity over self-conscious florid prose.
But there are echoes of Tolstoy here, too, most notably the Russian novelist’s oft-quoted maxim that “each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. The characters in Anything Is Possible are shaped and sometimes haunted by their past, or trapped by the difficulties of present relationships and their inability to say how they feel.

Often there is a wrenching, beautiful dissonance between private desires and public obligations: for example, Linda, who stays with her rich, distant husband in their soulless, art-filled mansion, despite his creepy predilections; and Charlie, the Vietnam vet tortured by his wartime experiences, who has fallen in love with a prostitute and out of love with his wife; and the father who keeps his sexuality a secret from his family until his death, when the truth emerges. The prose demonstrates compassion for the characters, but never sentimentality. Their stories are told with respect, nuance and an ability to present realistic dialogue.

One of my favorite chapters was Mississippi Mary. In it a woman goes to visit her mother, Mary, now living in an Italian village with her younger lover. The daughter tells Mary that other people they pass on the street mistakenly believe that, because of the visible age difference, her romantic partner is actually her son.
“Mary considered this. ‘Except why would they think I was his mother? I’m American, he’s Italian. They probably didn’t think that.’
“‘You’re my mother!’ Angelina burst out, and this caused Mary to almost weep again, because she had a searing glimpse of all the damage she must have done.”
Strout writes people who talk as people actually talk and not one line of dialogue is wasted. It all does something: advancing the story in some way or elucidating an inner feeling, in this case, a daughter’s sense of rejection and possession and the impetuosity she knows she should have outgrown. All this in a couple of sentences.

Lucy Barton herself does make an appearance in Sister where she is shown struggling with her own feeling of not belonging. In spite of her difficult childhood, Lucy has become a published author and her success is referred to by other characters throughout the book with a mixture of pride and resentment. But when she returns to Amgash, Lucy is caught between two worlds – simultaneously comforted by the familiarity of her one-time home and panicked by the memories it contains. She has been away so long that she is now a visitor to this town.

This short novel displays the skills of a brilliant chronicler of the ambiguity and delicacy of the human condition. If you like novels that comprise stories with differing sets of characters who demonstrate humanity in spite of occasional bitterness you will enjoy Anything Is Possible. It is an unusually good novel whose stories share a theme of the longing to be understood. ( )
  jwhenderson | Oct 19, 2018 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
For my brother, Jon Strout
First words
Tommy Guptill had once owned a dairy farm, which he'd inherited from his father, and which was about two miles from the town of Amgash, Illinois.
Quotations
This was the skin that protected you from the world--this loving of another person you shared your life with.
And you have always taken up so much space in my heart that it has sometimes felt to be a burden.
What puzzled Abel about life was how much one forgot but then lived with anyway--like phantom limbs, he supposed.
Right behind it was the last of the day's full light; generously, the colors from the setting sun sprayed upward over the open sky.
Panic, like a large minnow darting upstream, moved back and forth inside him.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * 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.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812989406, Hardcover)

From #1 New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout comes a brilliant latticework of fiction reminiscent of Olive Kitteridge.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 09 Oct 2016 12:12:38 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"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"--Amazon.com.… (more)

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