Friday, March 20, 2009

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

The Pulitzer Prize label doesn’t impress me much. Like the Academy Awards it often highlights artsy books that are out of touch with popular tastes. So it was IN SPITE OF the gold label that I picked up this book. Frankly, too many book bloggers had recommended it for me to ignore it. As I began reading I was amazed to find a man of faith being portrayed in a positive light. I kept waiting for the author to “zap” me with some horrible truth about this pastor that would prove he had feet of clay, but it never happened.

Gilead is the touching story of Reverend John Ames, an elderly pastor, who knows he hasn’t long to live. It is a collection of thoughts and memories he wants to pass on to his son. Although Ames seems to meander at times (making his words seem like the realistic ramblings of an old man), his reflections are anything but boring. You’ll laugh out loud at his thieving grandpa and you’ll grieve over his brother’s loss of faith. In the midst of the writing of his memoirs, Jack Boughton, a ne’er-do-well young man, comes to town and threatens Pastor Ames’ happiness. The struggle between Ames’ pastoral concern for Jack and his fear of Jack creates a fascinating story.

One of the only reasons the book did not make my “Wow!” list is because I had just read Cry, the Beloved Country - a pretty hard act for any book to follow. But while Cry is an intense story with an “avalanche of mercy”, Gilead is a gently told tale in which grace is dispersed in lovely, intermittent snowflakes. It’s a beautifully written book that celebrates the gifts and graces of life.


sage said...

I enjoyed this book--it's a novel filled with theological and philosophical insights. Robinson has a collection of essays titled "The Death of Adam" that are very good (she is a deep thinker who is well read--not only in theology, but also in the science and the social sciences).

Anonymous said...

My list of books I have to read is ever growing. I love your thoughtful and thought-provoking reviews that always make me feel like I have read something of worth just by reading your reviews. When I find myself with free moments I think, Hope would be reading right now, so I grab a book! Right now I am reading Issac Asimov, More Tales of the Black Widowers. This would be mind candy for you. : )

Annette said...

Hello new blogger friend, thank you for leaving a comment!
I love the look of your blog, especially the professional look of it, and the picture of the gently used books in the top title area.
I feel like I am also a book snob. I prefer difficult reads, books that make me think, ponder.
Thanks again.