Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Gilead


I've finally found some peace and quiet recently, which has allowed me the simple pleasure of reading again. It's amazing how many of the stresses of the day can just melt away while curled up in an overstuffed chair reading a good book. For my birthday, Ellen passed along to me Marilyn Robinson's two books, Housekeeping and Gilead. I started reading Housekeeping (and loved the twenty or so pages I read), but it disappeared somewhere. I'm sure it'll turn up. In the meantime, I've started reading Gilead. Wow. Just wow. This is such an incredibly beautiful book. The premise is that the book is a letter from a minister in his seventies who is dying to his seven-year-old son. It sounds like it could be incredibly maudlin, but it absolutely isn't. The descriptions of all the simple things Reverend Ames finds beautiful... I don't know quite how to describe it, but reading this book puts me into such a serene and joyful state of mind. There are a few others I've read over the years that had similar effects. David James Duncan's The River Why and Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies come to mind. But, as much as I adore both of those books, this is better.

I've heard a few people say that Robinson was awarded the Pulitzer for this novel because the selection committee was making up for not having given it to Housekeeping. I respectfully disagree. While the language (and again, I didn't get very far in before misplacing it) in Housekeeping is among the most beautiful I've ever read, Gilead stands very, very well on its own. I do think it's likely that it mightn't have been noticed as much without having Housekeeping to have made the committee aware of the author, but the book itself is oh so very, very worthy. One of the best birthday presents I've ever received. Thank you so much, Ellen.

2 Comments:

At 1:32 PM, Blogger bevjackson said...

That's it. I have to get it. I loved Housekeeping (eons ago) and forgot about her. Now everyone's talking about this book!

 
At 2:05 PM, Blogger Dave Clapper said...

I'm actually considering buying copies for my mother, sister, and grandfather. :)

 

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