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Gilead: A Novel Paperback – January 10, 2006
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“At a moment in cultural history dominated by the shallow, the superficial, the quick fix, Marilynne Robinson is a miraculous anomaly: a writer who thoughtfully, carefully, and tenaciously explores some of the deepest questions confronting the human species. . . . Poignant, absorbing, lyrical...Robinson manages to convey the miracle of existence itself.” ―Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Incandescent . . . magnificent . . . [a] literary miracle.” ―Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly (A)
“Rapturous . . . astonishing . . . Gilead is an inspired work from a writer whose sensibility seems steeped in holy fire.” ―Lisa Shea, Elle
“Lyrical and meditative . . . potently contemplative.” ―Michele Orecklin, Time
“Perfect.” ―Jeremy Jackson, People(four stars)
“Major.” ―Philip Connors, Newsday
“You must read this book. . . . Altogether unlike any other work of fiction, it has sprung forth more than twenty years after Housekeeping with what I can only call amazing grace.” ―Anne Hulbert, Slate
“So serenely beautiful and written in a prose so gravely measured and thoughtful, that one feels touched with grace just to read it.” ―Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
“There are passages here of such profound, hard-won wisdom and spiritual insight that they make your own life seem richer. . . . Gilead [is] a quiet, deep celebration of life that you must not miss.” ―Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor
“Gilead is a refuge for readers longing for that increasingly rare work of fiction, one that explores big ideas while telling a good story. As John Ames might point out, it's a remarkable thing to consider.” ―Olivia Boler, San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
Marilynne Robinson is the author of the modern classic Housekeeping--winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award--and two books of nonfiction, Mother Country (FSG, 1989) and The Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.
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I read Gilead after reading Lila. Although both books can stand on their own, reading them together gives them both added depth.
There is a spot about two-thirds of the way through when the thickness of theology creates a bit of a drag. The unanticipated ending makes it well worth the effort of reading on.
The writing is not brilliant to me, as some say, because it often lacks clarity. The cadence, sentence structure, word usage, punctuation and capitalization are of a style that the author holds the key to and seems to want the reader to struggle with many times. I did find gems in the writing, page 52 as an example, with a wonderful paragraph reflecting on his son, ..."you have been God's grace to me, a miracle, something more than a miracle."
Over half way through the book, the story gained the most clarity of the whole volume when Jack Boughton's story became dominate. The author found a focus and stuck with it for awhile.
I want to know more about all the characters but I don't know if I can struggle through "Home" which is in my reading stack. Reading a book like this is demanding. It requires reading and rereading passages, reflecting on the passages, and often wondering what the point of the words just read were. I did that over and over again. This book can not, will not be a simple read. As Bette Davis once said, "You're in for a bumpy ride."
Marilyn Robinson is now my favorite author. I am so thankful for her talent and beautiful writing. I wish I could give her something in return for the balm that these books have been to my soul.