Every time I go through a reading slump I feel that a book of short stories is just the kind of kick I need to get the wheels moving again. Life (and let’s admit it, a bit of uncharacteristic gaming frenzy) got in the way for the past month or so, and I turned to my TBR list in search for a new book to read in one sitting.
I read “Olive Kitteridge” a couple of years ago and I liked both the construction and the writing, so I went ahead and started “Anything Is Possible.” Four hours later, I was done and mesmerized by the feeling of immersion I had. It was like I was teleported to the small town of Amgash, Illinois, where time has another dimension and people with apparently normal appearances have heartbreaking stories that haunt them from the inside.
The short-stories are not connected by a single character as they were in “Olive Kitteridge,” but they still feature multiple interconnections. Sorrows and fears abound in the rendition of the lives of a former farm owner turned school janitor after his farm burns to the ground, a local woman who grew up as an outsider and managed to become a successful writer, her recluse brother who fights his demons all by himself, a perverted husband who engages in voyeurism and illicit sexual relationships while his wife turns a blind eye, and more.
“No one should be in a room with a man who’s at the end of his rope.”
The writing is fabulous, with sentences carefully constructed and polished to perfection. There’s not a single cliche in sight, and each of the short plots is so well-developed that you go from one story to another with the confidence something even better awaits just around the corner. The stories are incredibly varied thematically, have amazing depth, and each of them has closure, something that would certainly appeal to those readers who don’t cope too well with open endings.
After I finished the book, I found out that this is actually a sequel to “My Name Is Lucy Barton,” which I haven’t read. My appreciation for the writing grew even more, as you can definitely read “Anything Is Possible” as a stand-alone book and never know it draws on characters featured in another book. The book is real and powerful, and the vulnerability of the characters is incredibly raw and well-captured. A real treat.