The Bigness of the World

The Bigness of the World: Stories - Lori Ostlund

Thank you to Scribner for the egalley copy of the book.


I had pretty high hopes for this anthology, given the praise that it received as well as the relatively high rating. The opening, titular story was also quite interesting, filled both with quirkiness and clarity, with a pleasant cast of characters. I took this as an indicator for what to expect from the collection, but each following story took away from that initial fascination I had with the collection.


Looking back at it now, I can only say that there were two memorable stories – “The Bigness of the World” and “Talking Fowl with my Father”, which was the third story. Apart from them, every other story is difficult to recollect, mainly because they were so similar to each other. Most of them contained female couples who were teachers teaching abroad, and in every case the relationship would fall apart. That was the one motif that persisted throughout, and sometimes it felt like there was something waiting to be said, some kind of clever joke or moving observation that would wrap up all the events together. But that never came. Not even in the two stories that I enjoyed. There was a lot happening in the story yet nothing to keep me grounded to them, the characters often feeling distant and the plots repetitive. Even the writing began to take its toll after a certain point, with winding sentences that took away from story.


The stories are better suited for an older audience, I felt, mainly due to the act that I didn’t relate to any of the experiences or thoughts the characters had. They only succeeded in making me more worried about growing older.