Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday Tome - GILEAD by Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson is one of the writers whose books I have been looking forward to reading. I have read a few of her essays and seen her interviewed several times, and my wife has read and raved about several of her books, one of which was the novel, Gilead, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.

This past week I started reading Gilead and I am truly enjoying it. I've read about a third of the book so far and find the experience similar to reading Jayber Crow by Wendell Barry. This is, from my point of view, a good thing, as Jayber Crow may very well be my all-time favorite.

Gilead (at least what I've read so far) is a long letter from an old man, a pastor, who because of his declining health and approaching death has decided to write a memoir of sorts for the future adult of the now seven-year-old son whom he had late in life. Here is an example of Robinson's exceptional writing in the voice of the aged Congregationalist minister, John Ames.

There was a young couple strolling along half a block ahead of me. The sun had come up brilliantly after a heavy rain, and the trees were glistening and very wet. On some impulse, plain exuberance, I suppose, the fellow jumped up and caught hold of a branch, and a storm of luminous water came pouring down on the two of them, and they laughed and took off running, the girl sweeping water off her hair and her dress as if she were a little bit disgusted, but she wasn’t. It was a beautiful thing to see, like something from a myth. I don’t know why I thought of that now, except perhaps because it is easy to believe in such moments that water was made primarily for blessing, and only secondarily for growing vegetables or doing the wash. I wish I had paid more attention to it. My list of regrets may seem unusual, but who can know that they are, really. This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.

Robinson, Marilynne (2004-11-15). Gilead: A Novel (Kindle Locations 367-373). Macmillan. Kindle Edition.

When I finish Gilead, I hope to read Robinson's newest book, a collection of essays entitled, When I Was a Child I Read Books. Here is a recent Big Think video interview with Robinson.

Here is a wonderful appearance Marilynne made on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart promoting another book of essays entitled, Absence of Mind.

1 comment:

  1. Whaaaa? Credible, intelligent, and personable people make appearances on "The Daily Show"? *GASP* ;-)

    Loved the tongue-in-cheek last quote from Robinson.