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01 May 2012


I've just ordered this, although I'm disappointed that the book isn't one of those books-about-books which I dearly love. I've only read one of her novels, Gilead, but I do think it is exceptionally brilliant. It is religious, inasmuch as the main character is a Christian, but it certainly wasn't remotely smarmy. I thought it was wonderfully refreshing to have a Christian perspective within a novel, as it is one which is rarely heard - especially in the way Robinson uses it, non-sensationally, simply as an author would present any character.

Sorry that she doesn't work for you! I am a bit daunted about how I'll get on with her non-fiction (I attended a lecture she gave on philosophy and politics, and didn't understand a word) but I'll give her a go :)

Amen, sister. All it took for me was Housekeeping. Sometimes I am tempted when others rave about her, but life is just too short.

What you say about her fiction coincides with things others have told me. "Smarmy" wasn't the right word, but something about her tone put me off in the novels of hers that I've tried. And I'm not opposed to gentle or homespun fiction, really, but I prefer authors like Wendell Berry (Jayber Crow).
Good luck with her nonfiction! When I re-read the paragraph I put in above, I actually got it a little better. I think perhaps I am out of the habit of giving a little TIME to my nonfiction reading--if you've got time to read her more slowly I think that would help.

Yeah, I'm tempted all over again when I think about her novels. But there are just too many things on my TBR pile (not to mention going on in life!). Although I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds her, well, slow going.

I feel exactly as you do. Housekeeping tried too hard to be wacky and offbeat, though the movie was good. Also like you, I kept trying to read her because people whose opinions I respect love her. Gilead was like slow death and very religious in a fake spiritual way. Blech.

I adore Marilynne Robinson's writing, but I know she's very much a Marmite author. She works for you or she doesn't. I don't know many people who fall in the middle. I've read and loved all her fiction, but this book was my first success with her nonfiction. I only read one essay from it each day, and I read it slowly, stopping every couple of paragraphs to make sure I was following the argument. I don't always want to put that kind of time into my reading, but her thinking is interesting enough to me that it was worth it.

Even though I loved this book, I agree with you about the title. It feels like false advertising to me, which is exactly why I started my review with a big caveat about the subject matter.

Oh, you're not alone. (Obviously, from the other comments.) Gilead was a DNF for me and Housekeeping remains on the TBR shelf. I was thinking of trying the new one, too, but I got lost just reading that paragraph.

I'm very much with Teresa -- she works for me, but that may be also because I took four classes with her, and so when I read her work, I can hear her talking, and I like her a great deal as a person. But I would never think less of anyone for not finding her their cup of tea.

Nancy, Melissa,
Ha! Your comments made me laugh. So glad to know I'm not alone.

Yes, I'd say I've found that too. I've never really found anyone who thinks she's just okay--they either love her, pretty much, or haven't heard of her. But I'm glad you thought the title was sort of false as well.

I only think less of people for liking Thomas Friedman. :) I can see why people would like Robinson; I think if you had the time to devote to her, you could probably enjoy her prose quite a bit. Thanks for the insight into her teaching, too.

What??? You didn't play edifying car games with CRJr?? Or ws he napping?

Ha. No, I'm not very good at playing edifying or educational games with CRjr. (Playing does not come naturally to me. But I am very good at letting him stir things I'm cooking. Someday he'll cook, right?)
We encourage napping in the car. We encourage napping everywhere, mainly so I can sneak one myself.

Most of the top chefs are male, correct? And he's pretty cute so he could get a TV series.

I enjoyed listening to Gilead while gardening a few years ago. If I remember correctly, episodes repeat to some extent, making the novel sort of a meditation on a theme. It may work better aloud. I might have started skimming if I was looking at print.

LOL and agree with the Marmite comment!

I tried to read Gilead. I tried HARD. Nope, couldn't do it. I had read such rave reviews that I was sure I would love it but..no. I guess I'm glad I'm not the only one!

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