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Gilead ~ By Marilynne Robinson

February 25, 2011

Genre: Adult Fiction (Literary)
Publisher: Picador
252 pages
ISBN: 9780312424404
Source: Book store
Gilead is not so much a novel as it is a contemplative work of philosophical fiction. Through the words of Congregationalist minister John Ames, we are guided through his life as a spiritual leader, the good, the bad and the ugly. Though the book, itself is small and the words simple, the thoughts are heavy and powerful. The eternal questions of goodness v. evil, predestination and variations on love and life are discussed in a rambling, folksy and relatable manner.

My habit has been to read books of thought pertaining to existentialism and a deeper, often darker, perception of human kind and the metaphysical world. It was, for this reason, that I actually found myself enjoying a new experience in reading a much more “centrally christian” take on the spiritual world through a more mainstream approach. Not that there is much preaching of when or how to act, between the covers, here, but rather, it specifically does not give any creedo in passing. It simply, peacefully comes upon questions and then moves on.

I will say that I was frustrated with the pace of the book more than a few times. I think that this might have been a book to read in short snippets before bed rather than try to swallow as a full, linear offering. I think that once I adopted the former approach, I made my peace with the slower parts and really enjoyed it for what it was, not what I was trying to make it become.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2011 10:02 pm

    For me, Gilead is a book I was glad I read, even though I didn’t always enjoy actually reading it. You know? I started it about 3 times before listening to it on audio. But in the end, I find that I remember it as a heart-wrenching novel about a man’s love for his son.

    • February 27, 2011 9:48 am

      I did enjoy it but I think I liked it better as a whole piece than in bits if that makes any sense…

  2. February 28, 2011 12:28 am

    I have had varying experiences with Robinson. I loved the sequel to this book, Home, and felt that it was truly a work of genius, but also just finished Housekeeping for a book club and absolutely hated it. I am not sure if I would like this one or not, but I do have it on my shelf to peruse one day!

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