美国当代小说家伊丽莎白·斯特劳特(Elizabeth Strout) 1956年出生于缅因州波特兰市，父亲是大学教授，母亲是中学老师。她大学就读于缅因的贝茨学院，后进入雪城大学法学院学习，毕业后在纽约生活，开始从事文学创作。她的小说以对人物心理的细腻描写见长。1998年出版长篇处女作《艾米与伊莎贝尔》(Amy and Isabelle)，获《洛杉矶时报》最佳首作奖。2006年出版《与我同在》(Abide with Me)，入选美国独立书商协会选书。2009年则凭借《奥丽芙·基特里奇》(Olive Kitteridge，又译为《微不足道的生活》)，获得普利策奖，该小说于2014年被HBO改编为电视剧。她近期的作品有《伯吉斯家的男孩们》(The Burgess Boys, 2013)、《我的名字是露西·巴顿》(My Name Is Lucy Barton, 2016)以及《一切皆有可能》(Anything Is Possible, 2017)。
◎ 赏析 / 陈榕
To begin with, it was a simple story: I had gone into the hospital to have my appendix2) out. After two days they gave me food, but I couldn’t keep it down. And then a fever arrived. No one could isolate any bacteria3) or figure out what had gone wrong. No one ever did. I took fluids through one IV4), and antibiotics5) came through another. They were attached to a metal pole on wobbly wheels that I pushed around with me, but I got tired easily. Toward the beginning of July, whatever problem had taken hold of me went away. But until then I was in a very strange state—a literally feverish waiting—and I really agonized. I had a husband and two small daughters at home; I missed my girls terribly, and I worried about them so much I was afraid it was making me sicker. When my doctor, to whom I felt a deep attachment—he was a jowly-faced Jewish man who wore such a gentle sadness on his shoulders, whose grandparents and three aunts, I heard him tell a nurse, had been killed in the camps, and who had a wife and four grown children here in New York City—this lovely man, I think, felt sorry for me, and saw to it that my girls—they were five and six—could visit me if they had no illnesses. They were brought into my room by a family friend, and I saw how their little faces were dirty, and so was their hair, and I pushed my IV apparatus6) into the shower with them, but they cried out, “Mommy, you’re so skinny!” They were really frightened. They sat with me on the bed while I dried their hair with a towel, and then they drew pictures, but with apprehension, meaning that they did not interrupt themselves every minute by saying, “Mommy, Mommy, do you like this? Mommy, look at the dress of my fairy princess!” They said very little, the younger one especially seemed unable to speak, and when I put my arms around her, I saw her lower lip thrust out and her chin tremble; she was a tiny thing, trying so hard to be brave. When they left I did not look out the window to watch them walk away with my friend who had brought them, and who had no children of her own.
My husband, naturally, was busy running the household and also busy with his job, and he didn’t often have a chance to visit me. He had told me when we met that he hated hospitals—his father had died in one when he was fourteen—and I saw now that he meant this. In the first room I had been assigned was an old woman dying next to me; she kept calling out for help—it was striking to me how uncaring the nurses were, as she cried that she was dying. My husband could not stand it—he could not stand visiting me there, is what I mean—and he had me moved to a single room. Our health insurance didn’t cover this luxury, and every day was a drain on our savings. I was grateful not to hear that poor woman crying out, but had anyone known the extent of my loneliness I would have been embarrassed. Whenever a nurse came to take my temperature, I tried to get her to stay for a few minutes, but the nurses were busy, they could not just hang around talking.
About three weeks after I was admitted, I turned my eyes from the window late one afternoon and found my mother sitting in a chair at the foot of my bed. “Mom?” I said.
“Hi, Lucy,” she said. Her voice sounded shy but urgent. She leaned forward and squeezed my foot through the sheet. “Hi, Wizzle,” she said. I had not seen my mother for years, and I kept staring at her; I could not figure out why she looked so different.
“Mom, how did you get here?” I asked.
“Oh, I got on an airplane.” She wiggled her fingers and I knew that there was too much emotion for us. So I waved back, and lay flat. “I think you’ll be all right,” she added, in the same shy-sounding but urgent voice. “I haven’t had any dreams.”
Her being there, using my pet name, which I had not heard in ages, made me feel warm and liquid-filled, as though all my tension had been a solid thing and now was not. Usually I woke at midnight and dozed fitfully, or stared wide-awake through the window at the lights of the city. But that night I slept without waking, and in the morning my mother was sitting where she had been the day before. “Doesn’t matter,” she said when I asked. “You know I don’t sleep lots.”
1. 节选部分主要讲的是主人公露西·巴顿(Lucy Barton)因阑尾炎住院，对孩子十分思念，丈夫因不能陪床请来了她许久不见的妈妈来医院做看护，这让她感到很欣慰。
2. appendix [əˈpendɪks] n. [解剖学]阑尾
3. bacteria [bækˈtɪəriə] n. [复] 细菌
5. antibiotic [æntibaɪˈɒtɪk] n. 抗生素，抗菌素
6. apparatus [ˌæpəˈreɪtəs] n. 仪器，设备