Friday, September 20, 2013

Incandescent. Earthy. Piercing. Rambling.


Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson 

"My grandfather seemed to me stricken and afflicted, and indeed he was, like a man everlastingly struck by lightning, so that there was an ashiness about his clothes and his hair never settled and his eye had a look of tragic alarm when he wasn't actually sleeping. He was the most unreposeful human being I ever knew, except for certain of his friends. All of them could sit on their heels into their old age, and they'd do it by preference, as if they had a grudge against furniture. They had no flesh on them at all. They were like the Hebrew prophets in some unwilling retirement...Still, they were bodacious old men, the lot of them. It was the most natural thing in the world that my grandfather's grave would look like a place where someone had tried to smother a fire."

“As you read this, I hope you will understand that when I speak of the long night that preceded these days of my happiness, I do not remember grief and loneliness so much as I do peace and comfort—grief, but never without comfort; loneliness, but never without peace. Almost never.”

"When people come to speak to me, whatever they say, I am struck by a kind of incandescence in them, the 'I' whose predicate can be 'love' or 'fear' or 'want,' and whose object can be 'someone' or 'nothing' and it won't really matter, because the loveliness is just in that presence, shaped around 'I' like a flame on a wick, emanating itself in grief and guilt and joy and whatever else."

There will be more passages marked than unmarked when I have finished.

And then I will read it again. And every word will be underlined.


Brian Wasko said...

Hi Heidi, since you comment so regularly on my blog, I thought I'd return the favor. :)

I read Gilead several years ago in a men's book club I'm a part of. I enjoyed it very much. As an evangelical Christian, it gave me a greater appreciation for the perspective of mainliine Christians, like the narrator.

I always find it interesting when male writers choose a female persona to write through -- like Lewis' Till We Have Faces -- and vice versa -- like this book.

I struggled a bit early in the book because I found the perspective to be unmistakably feminine and therefore not quite believable. By the book's end, however, I had forgotten that early impression. Not sure if the character changed or if I just came to accept him for what he is.

It did help that Ms. Robinson's prose is so elegant and beautiful.

jeana said...

I'm reading this now too! I've been so unfocused the past few weeks its taking me forever, but really like it. Glad to see you're enjoying it!

Jessica Stock said...

one of my favorite books ever!

Hannah said...

Hmmmm. A few years ago I read another of her books (I think it was called Housekeeping), and I just couldn't love it. The writing style just wasn't for me. I'm open to trying her again, though!

I've just been getting into the Father Brown mysteries of G.K. Chesterton. Are you familiar?