Thursday, April 8, 2010

The great Marilynne Robinson

Dear friends, I am sorry my posts have been scarce of late.  As usual, the press of the culminating spring semester yields an awful lot to do and very few spare moments to sit and be quiet.  I promise to resume more normal posting when things slow down.

But there have been some moments for reading as always and so I am savoring Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping.  Many people I love and respect highly have suggested this book to me; I am reading it slowly and carefully--marveling frequently at her way of saying what I didn't think could be said--in fact never imagined could be said because I hadn't thought there were words in the world to say it...Ultimately, I hadn't conceived of the possibility until she showed me.  (Doesn't get much better than that in terms of artistry.)

A passage from page 73:
During those days Fingerbone was strangely transformed.  If one should be shown odd fragments arranged on a silver tray and be told, "This is a splinter from the True Cross, and that is a nail paring dropped by Barabbas, and that is a bit of lint from under the bed where Pilate's wife dreamed her dream, " the very ordinariness of the things would recommend them.  Every spirit passing through the world fingers the tangible and mars the mutable, and finally has to come to look and not to buy.  So shoes are worn and hassocks are sat upon and finally everything is left where it was and the spirit
passes on, just as the wind in the orchard picks up the leaves from the ground as if there were no other pleasure in the world but brown leaves, as if it would deck, clothe, flesh itself in flourishes of dusty brown apple leaves, and then drops them all in a heap at the side of the house and goes on.  So Fingerbone, or such relics of it as showed above the mirroring waters, seemed fragments of the quotidian held up to our wondering attention, offered somehow as proof of their own significance. 


Ellen Campbell said...

.oh yes. Interesting you are reading this now. I too read it at just the right time. I might just give it a reread.

Melissa Dunn said...

I read "Gilead" first and then "Housekeeping' and, wow, they are really different. It's been a few years since I read it and I still think about it often. She's an amazing writer.