Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout: Angela in “The Piano Player”

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Olive Kitteridege is a collection of short stories that acts as the connective tissue among the inhabitants of a small-town community in Maine.  It’s an amazing read, but don’t take my word for it: ask Pulitzer!

One of the most poignant aspects of this collection is Strout’s ability to portray adult isolation–that stigmatized loneliness that occurs, sometimes even when surrounded by loved ones.  The rumination on that aspect of the human condition lends a subtle “otherness” to many of the characters that would not traditionally be labeled as such.

A character whose loneliness is tangible–a biting acid she holds back–is Angela, the cocktail bar pianist with stage fright.  Her angelic face, the fake fur and high-heeled boots–they are her armor.  But not all can be covered with polymers and lipstick.

“A face like an angel.  A drunk.  Her mother sold herself to men.  Never married, Angela?”

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