Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Review: Gilead

I just finished Marilynne Robinson's Gilead. I was going to write a nice, lengthy review of it, but the only thing I can think to write is:

Holy shit.

Then, as a follow-up (for clarity's sake):

There is no doubt in my mind why this won a Pulitzer. Robinson uses the English language with a mastery that suggests that she owns the damn thing. Almost as a dare against her own formidable talent, she wrote a book that breaks just about every friggin' rule that they tell writers not to break: it's in the form of a journal, written in first-person as an aging third-generation preacher living in a desolate town in the midwest telling a rather narrowly focused narrative to one person--and the reader falls right into it. It's like 250 pages of tightly-woven poetry. It makes me embarrased of everything I've ever written; but not in a bad way...in a way that reminds me why I read fiction, and want to do better at writing it.

It's that good.


Aaron Polson said...

Wow. I couldn't get through the book, but that's just 'cause I have adult ADD.

Glad you loved it.

K.C. Shaw said...

Okay, that book just shot to the top of my "have to check this one out" list. It doesn't sound like the kind of thing I ordinarily read, but I do love good writing.

Jamie Eyberg said...

I must go to the library this weekend. I doubt if our little town has the book but I can sure try to find it.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

It took 20 pages or so to get into it...kind of like a Shakespeare play where you have to let your brain wrap around it. I'm definitely not a high-line reader (I gave up on Faulkner and Wolfe), but I think this one was definitely worth the effort. Her pacing is incredible...she reveals key frames at just the right time, in just the right voice and measure. I checked her Wiki after posting this review and discovered that she is a Ph.D. in English and a creative writing professor...that was my "ah...well, there you go" moment. Not the kind of stuff you write in between clocking off the day job and putting the kids to bed, and she was over twenty years between novels when this came out.

Jamie: I just gave mine up on paperbackswap, otherwise I'd send it to you...sorry.