Friday, May 09, 2008


I had never heard of this book and was only attracted to it by its title. There are some of us who still have to keep house you know. And maybe what began as duress ended in considerable contentment. Especially in view of the little things that make housekeeping feed our souls. Folding line-bleached cloth diapers, snipping peppermint leaves to make a cup of tea for a visitor, having strawberry lemon marmalade on hand and hearing the timer for the batch of fresh baked bread that you will serve first as an after-school snack and then as an accompaniment to dinner.

And to think that we housekeepers and mothers have been deigned to be worthy of $117,000 per year. And on the one hand we think, how base to distill our worth to mere dollars and on the other hand we think, but it IS six figures and that is nothing to be sneezed at.

But back to the book. I bought it for the title and the checked curtains on the cover and the review by Walker Percy. It is a book about tragedy. And about family. And about how families pull together and drift apart when subjected to tragedy.

And it's the kind of book that you read and realize the author, Marilyn Robinson, is in such control of her prose that she does not have to force it. After a few sentences I find I have to force it or I can't go on. She doesn't.

I've concluded recently that no book, or movie or play is of any worth if it does not have as its main theme - redemption. It is this that struck me about the movie, "Changing Lanes". It's the redemption of the human race that inspires and propels us to improve, persevere and strive. Redemption is the ultimate gift and the only gift that matters.

From the book:

Memory is the sense of loss, and loss pulls us after it. God Himself was pulled after us into the vortex we made when we fell, or so the story goes. And while He was on earth He mended families. He gave Lazarus back to his mother, and to the centurion he gave his daughter again. He even restored the severed ear of the soldier who came to arrest Him- a fact that allows us to hope the resurrection will reflect a considerable attention to detail. Yet this was no more than tinkering. Being man He felt the pull of death, and being God He must have wondered more than we do what it would be like. He is known to have walked upon water, but He was not born to drown. And when He did die it was sad- such a young man so full of promise, and His mother wept and His friends could not believe the loss and the story spread everywhere and the mourning could not be comforted, until He was so sharply lacked and so powerfully remembered that His friends felt Him beside them as they walked along the road, and saw someone cooking fish on the shore and knew it to be Him, and sat down to supper with Him, all wounded as He was.

It's a worthwhile book to read.

I'm on page 201 and there are only 219 pages left.

I am steeling myself to read the last few pages. Tragedy is heavy in the air. I cannot decide if it will be state-imposed tragedy or self-imposed tragedy. I'm not sure which would be worse. I suppose state-imposed tragedy leaves the soul free of culpability so that is to be preferred. But dreaded nonetheless in the very human sense.

A good book to read while you cherish your family. And be thankful that tragedy is not too heavy in the air.


Anonymous said...

Yes, very interesting but...

have you considered the, "Empty Set" ?

Santiago Chiva de Agustín said...

Hello. Congratulations for your blog. Do you know why the young people pray the holy rosary? You can watch here fifty testimonies of young university students
(in Spanish, with english subtitles)
See it:
Santiago (Granada, Spain)

erin is nice said...

if walker percy said it was good, i have to read it.

M. Alexander said...

That was my thought exactly.