In my last post I made the assumption that Ollie-O was a female in Maria Semple’s book. It wasn’t until later in the book I found that the word “he” was used in connection with Ollie. How wrong I had been.. But I find it very hard to get my mind around the idea that Ollie was a man. Of course it would be a woman organizing lunchies for mumsies. To me only a woman would have written a letter in that way.
Take the name Ollie. I always thought that “ie” was used for female diminutives and “y” for the male version. Perhaps people in Seattle do things differently ! So, Oliver or Olive. They are not names I hear very often these days. Perhaps we could have Ollie Twist, or Ollie Stone, or Ollie North, or how about Ollie Oyl for Popeye‘s girlfriend, and Laurel and Ollie in the movies.
.But it is not all satire. There are some memorable descriptions. At one stage Maria Semple wrote
“Just last night I woke up to pee. I was half asleep, with no concept of myself, a blank, and then the data started reloading……” . A few words that can say so much – that moment of neutrality before the pleasures or the pains start flooding back.
Regardless of the minor role played by Ollie in Maria Semple’s “ Where’d you go Bernadette”, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It ranged from hilarious to pompous to incredibly sad in parts, and with a conventional rounding-off at the end. And like any book worth its salt it made me think about many things. The author is satirizing Seattle but it could be any city. We all have similar problems, Satire is such a good way of highlighting them. I just happened to pick on a tiny bit of trivia to put my knickers in a knot !