Sunday, June 11, 2006
Gilead - Marilynne Robinson [June/06]
For a book club that I read with online, each member was allowed to choose one book, and those are the books we are going to read over the next year. The book for June is Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. It won the Pulitizer Prize, so you would think that it is an exceptional novel. From the front flap:
An intimate tale of three generations, from the Civil War to the twentieth century: a story about fathers and sons, and the spiritual battles that rage within all of us.
It's 1956 in Gilead, Iowa, towards the end of the Reverand John Ames's life. The son and grandson of preachers, he is absorbed in recording his family's story, a legacy for the young child he will never see grow up. Haunted by his grandfather's presence, John tells of the rift between his grandfather and his father: the elder, an angry visionary who fought for the abolitionist cause, and his son, an ardent pacifist. He is troubled, too, by his prodigal namesake, Jack (John Ames} Boughton, his best friend's lost son who returns to Gilead searching for a salvation the town might hold.
Told in John Ames's joyous, rambling voice that finds beauty, humor and truth in the smallest of life's details, Gilead is a wonderful, heartfelt song of celebration and acceptance of the best and the worst the world has to offer. At its heart is a tale of the sacred bonds between fathers and sons, pitch-perfect in style and story.
This is a very slow read. It just took forever to get through and it is not even that many pages long! I can understand why it would appeal to the judges for the pulitizer, but it just did not work well for me. The book jumps around a lot, that can be annoying at many times, but more importantly, it is just plain hard to get into. It is one of those books that you either like or hate, I am not sure there is much road in between. For many people it seems to be the fact that you are left thinking about legacies that appeals to the readers. I just could not get into it enough to appreciate it.