Today’s Washington Post ran an excellent profile of Elizabeth Strout, exploring where Olive Kitteridge came from—the book and the character.
“By 1994, [Strout] had published a number of stories, but she had also begun to have a distressing feeling that "something wasn't happening" in her work -- that she was "holding back on telling truths."
“She wasn't sure exactly what these were. So she signed up for a stand-up comedy class to find out.
“"I thought: That's a real pressure cooker. You've got your audience right there and you're responsible for them directly," she says, explaining this strange and, to her, terrifying impulse. "What would come out of my mouth?"
“What came out, as Strout stood onstage at an East Side comedy club at the conclusion of the stand-up course, turned out to be a stream of jokes making fun of her New England roots. And she knew that, in her writing, she needed to go back home.”
Read the rest of Bob Thompson’s article here.