Housekeeping~Marilynne Robinson

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just finished this and it's pretty wonderful, although I'm not completely sold on the character of Sophie.

like a ◴ ◷ ◶ (dyao), Thursday, 15 July 2010 12:29 (ten years ago) link

Sylvie -- why not?

kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 20 July 2010 00:44 (ten years ago) link

well she was this kind of a priori paragon of free-spirited feminine existence. she seemed to exist mainly for the purpose of being contrasted against. just a piston in the narrative's engine without any real force of its own.

(also, is she supposed to be an homage to plath?)

dyao, Tuesday, 20 July 2010 01:27 (ten years ago) link

Doesn't seem much like what I know of Plath...

But there WERE free-spirited women before feminism.

kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 20 July 2010 01:34 (ten years ago) link

hah don't get it twisted, I'm not critiquing feminism itself, just that sylvie the character seemed opaque (and robinson probably meant it to be that way) but it was in a way that I found unsatisfying

dyao, Tuesday, 20 July 2010 01:35 (ten years ago) link

There are free-spirited women NOW who exist outside the straightjacket of orthodox modern feminism (not to start trouble or anything).

kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 20 July 2010 01:41 (ten years ago) link

Morbs, you should read Gilead. Very different from Housekeeping, and an unforced masterpiece.

Would love to hear Bam babble about this (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 20 July 2010 01:52 (ten years ago) link

amen to that.

jed_, Tuesday, 20 July 2010 02:15 (ten years ago) link

one month passes...

she did it to me again, broke my heart with "Home".

jed_, Tuesday, 31 August 2010 12:51 (ten years ago) link

I wasn't as moved as I was by Gilead, but I haven't read two more finely wrought novels in recent years.

Gucci Mane hermeneuticist (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 31 August 2010 12:54 (ten years ago) link

Yeah I found it harder to get into and harder to love, but it was still masterful. I will try Housekeeping next. Her recent essays/lectures though, are bobbins.

ledge, Tuesday, 31 August 2010 13:04 (ten years ago) link

***SPOLIERS***

seriously don't read this if you plan to read the book.

when the event happens at the end of the novel it took my breath away, and i mean that quite literally. when i read the sentence describing D and her son in the car driving towards the house the shock produced a gasp and a sob that it took a few minutes for me to compose myself from before i read on. It's all the more affecting because of the way it's so deftly and quietly described; when you are a few pages from the end and you expect the thing to just ebb into silence. it was all tears for me from that point on. Did either of you anticipate it?

jed_, Tuesday, 31 August 2010 14:29 (ten years ago) link

I didn't, but I didn't find it that affecting either, I'm afraid. I think my problem with Home was one of sympathy and empathy. I could empathise with Glory, really understand the whys and wherefores of every issue she had - but still she seemed to me to be overthinking, obsessing over trivialities. I had trouble sympathising - in contrast to Ames in Gilead, who I thought brought just the right amount of thought to bear on each of his worries. As for Jack, of course I could sympathise, but empathy was completely lacking - perhaps understandably for such a black sheep, even one trying to make good.

ledge, Tuesday, 31 August 2010 17:29 (ten years ago) link

i can understand that. Maybe MR goes just too far in terms of Glory's reticence in relating her concerns. There's so much absent or merely suggested in the book, some of which is actually in Gilead, that perhaps a bit more of her inner monologue is needed to ground the thing.

jed_, Tuesday, 31 August 2010 19:22 (ten years ago) link

three years pass...

i mean~GODDAMN

But if she had simply brought us home again to the high frame apartment building with the scaffolding of stairs, I would not remember her that way. Her eccentricities might have irked and embarrassed us when we grew older. We might have forgotten her birthday, and teased her to buy a car or to change her hair. We would have left her finally. We would have laughed together with bitterness and satisfaction at our strangely solitary childhood, in light of which our failings would seem inevitable, and all our attainments miraculous. Then we would telephone her out of guilt and nostalgia, and laugh bitterly afterward because she asked us nothing, and told us nothing, and fell silent from time to time, and was glad to get off the phone. We would take her to a restaurant and a movie on Thanksgiving and buy her best-sellers for Christmas. We would try to give her outings and make her find some interests, but she would soften and shrink in our hands, and become infirm. She would bear her infirmities with the same taut patience with which she bore our solicitude, and with which she had borne every other aspect of life, and her silence would make us more and more furious. Lucille and I would see each other often, and almost never talk of other things. Nothing would be more familiar to us than her silence, and her sad, abstracted calm. I know how it would have been, because I have observed that, in the way people are strange, they grow stranger. We would have laughed and felt abandoned and aggrieved, never knowing that she had gone all the way to the edge of the lake to rest her head and close her eyes, and had come back again for our sakes. She would have remained untransfigured. We would never have known that her calm was as slight as the skin on water, and that her calm sustained her as a coin can float on still water. We would have known nothing of the nature and reach of her sorrow if she had come back. But she left us and broke the family and the sorrow was released and we saw its wings and saw it fly a thousand ways into the hills, and sometimes I think sorrow is a predatory thing because birds scream at dawn with a marvelous terror, and there is, as I have said before, a deathly bitterness in the smell of ponds and ditches. When we were children and frightened of the dark, my grandmother used to say if we kept our eyes closed we would not see it. That was when I noticed the correspondence between the space within the circle of my skull and the space around me. I saw just the same figure against the lid of my eye or the wall of my room, or in the trees beyond my window. Even the illusion of perimeters fails when families are separated.

johnny crunch, Friday, 14 March 2014 19:20 (six years ago) link

one year passes...
four years pass...

Just finished this. A rum one. When it proceeds with action and dialogue it's so successful and evocative, with such a sly economy of emotive language, but too often I also felt myself wading through the many, often contrived, and often infuriating reflections of the narrator. If you went through this novel and took out every single single it would be so very improved. It tries to tell, so copiously, when it achieves everything it needs to through showing. I suppose this is a commonplace pitfall of debut novels; I'm told the Gilead uses the hokey-simile voice as well, but much more appropriately

imago, Monday, 6 January 2020 12:53 (eight months ago) link

Every single simile, even. Some of them work, but to be safer they all need to go

imago, Monday, 6 January 2020 12:54 (eight months ago) link

Bookkeeping

I suppose there's an argument that the unrestrained figurative tower is redolent of the unrestrainedly Other lifestyle our heroines fall into

imago, Monday, 6 January 2020 12:57 (eight months ago) link

I didn't really get on with Housekeeping, possibly for similar reasons; as for Gilead I can't recall how simile prone the immensely likeable narrator is but concur with Alfred above that it is very different from Housekeeping, and an unforced masterpiece.

Paperbag raita (ledge), Monday, 6 January 2020 13:49 (eight months ago) link

I said that, eh?

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 6 January 2020 14:51 (eight months ago) link


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