My Name is Lucy Barton
Elizabeth Strout, in her introduction to The Best American Stories 2013, discusses author trust and confidence at some (and brilliant) length. Some author voices invite trust and others do not.
I cannot help but think back on that introduction when I read Strout. She (not unlike Grace Paley) sits down and tells you the story in a way that indeed does invite trust.
“There was a time, and it was many years ago now,” she begins, and she had me at around “years.” You cannot help but listen, with interest, to the unfolding of this clear and open narrative—clear, the better to view and know its characters in depth.
Yes, she recounts a normal life, but it makes you realize that there really is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to human lives. We all live amazing and complicated ones, full of hopes and dreams and contradictions and griefs and happinesses, and Strout tells this life with the unhurried ease and beauty of the master story teller.
It is not a long story. While called a novel, I’d say novella. You can read it in one (long) sitting. So, brew yourself some tea, put your feet up, and let Strout carry you away.