Fascinating Interview

With Marilynne Robinson here

It is my lot in life to be the dissenter in tastes in books.  Earlier, when so many friends pressed Frank Peretti’s books in my palm with promises of enchantment, I had to tell them that, “no, I didn’t find them wonderful.”  Ditto all the apocalyptic pulp fiction of the last decade.  Shudder.  

In fact, I must confess, in a new circle of reader-friends that went bonkers praising Marilynne Robinson’s  Housekeeping, I felt like the one dissenting voice.  Granted the writing was good, but the storyline sure depressed me.  I found Gilead much easier to digest, but I didn’t go into paroxisms of joy over it.  These are two books, however, that I wonder if I should re-read someday and compare notes with my original reactions.

The Paris Review’s interview of Robinson has so many points worth printing out, pondering, discussing with my high school senior.  Much food for thought.    

P.S. – I came across this interview through a free weekly newsletter called Books & Culture.  You can subscribe here.   


8 thoughts on “Fascinating Interview

  1. i have to admit i was fascinated by Peretti’s books–at the very least they reminded me that there is a spiritual battle going on in this world. Maybe not just like he wrote, BUT still in action. i think it appealed to my more sensory/less logic driven personality. i haven’t read Housekeeping, but then i hadn’t even heard of the author till your post.

  2. You are not alone in being a dissenter.  I often find myself at opposite side with those who go ga-ga over a book.  However, I *am* determined to give Wendell Berry another go.

  3. @DebD – Hello, fellow dissenter, Deb!  You didn’t like Jayber Crow, right?  Hannah Coulter is at the top of my WB ga-ga list.  I’m bracing myself for yourdissenting opinion (grin)!   I like friendships with a balance ofmutual loves, areas of disagreement, and strong enough ties to bridgethose differences.But, hey, I thought of you when I recently found “Seasons of Grace, Reflections on the Orthodox Church Year” by Donna Farley at a used bookstore.  Quote from the back cover:  “The beauty of the Church seasons is that they teach us how to balance our life.  The Christian life is a whole life, an expansive life, a life in Christ–the one who gives Himself for the life of the world.”I figure I will learn more about Orthodoxy so I can converse more intelligently with my (growing group of) Orthodox friends.  But I think I’ll find many nuggets of wisdom: I’ve already come across several little gems.

  4. Often a dissenter as well.  However, I am enjoying Marilynne Robinson’s works, in general.  I am waiting til Christmas to read her newest work.  I will say this:  I can understand someone appreciating, yet not loving, her fiction.  Housekeeping is interesting but off kilter (like F. O’Connor in some ways).  Gilead is beautiful and pastoral, but because of it’s format, can be a bit jumpy.Her book of non fiction essays The Death of Adam is an incredible piece of work and totally different from her fictional pieces.  It is akin to Dorothy Sayers’ in inflection and wit, Schaeffer in scope and, dare I say it, Calvin in theology.The section on Darwinism alone is amazing.  Also, there is an article online taking on Dawkins’ God Delusion.  It was published in Harper’s in 2006.  You can google & find it easily if you want to investigate it further.  Peace, Jeff Miller

  5. hello deb!wow, i couldn’t agree with you more re: some of the reading choices people have offerred me. 🙂 with some prodding of my hubby i joined a book club with the ladies from his work and am finding myself regretting my decision! our lives have been really crazy and heartbreaking these past couple of years because our son is severely mentally ill (he is 8 years old.) my dear hubby just wanted to give me an opportunity to get out of the house i think.:) anyway, i did like housekeeping, and i did like gilead; though not as much as housekeeping. i think for me it depends on what season of life i am when i read a book. a couple of years ago i reread housekeeping and was surprised i had been so crazy for it. i LOVED (read gushing…)  jayber crow. this book was beautiful. i also liked hannah coulter though jayber crow was probably the best book i have read in a long time. i know what you mean about being a reading “dissenter” i often feel as if i have to be careful not to be seen as a book snob. :::)))))enjoy your day!julie harris

  6. @jalanmiller – Ah yes, what a great comparison to Flannery.  Your one sentence describing The Death of Adam insures that I will find it and read it.  Sayers, Schaeffer and Calvin?  That’s remarkable!  Thanks so much for the tip.@psalmnine1 – Julie, thanks for sharing about your son’s handicap.  I’ve also been wondering about my life circumstances when I read Housekeeping; sure that they played a role in my reaction.  I have resisted community book groups precisely because my taste in books is so far from the mainstream that it is hardly wet.  I have shelves of books I want to read, and already read quite a few books by request of friends.  I don’t think I would enjoy more reading that I don’t get to choose.  Blessings to you both,Carol

  7. Carol,Yes, it was Jayber Crow I didn’t like.I’ve never heard of that book on the church year.  I wonder if the author is related to Fr. Lawrence Farley, whose books I have enjoyed.  If you want another little glimpse into the life of a parish Frederica Mathewes-Green’s book Facing East is quite good.  I will add Hannah Coulter and Seasons of Grace… into my to-read list.

  8. @DebD – Hi Deb!Yes, yes, yes!  The author is the wife of Fr. Lawrence Farley.  I have Facing East onmy wish list.  I always enjoyed Frederica’s essays in World magazine (aLONG time ago) and have read some stuff she’s written on the web.  Blessings, my friend.Carol

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