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Reader! Reader!

Literary fiction, classics, dystopian, history, memoir, prize winners, and of course the 1001 books. You really might catch me reading anything!

Currently reading

Empire of Cotton: A Global History
Sven Beckert
Progress: 220/656 pages


Gilead - Marilynne Robinson

Well, that was exhausting.


I suppose I can see why this book won a Pulitzer. It is well written, introspective, and very American—in the sense that it describes, very passively, an era and then some in American history. However, it is also very very boring.


John Ames, 77, reverend, is dying of heart failure. So he decides to write about himself, his family, his town for his 7-year-old son by a late second marriage to know him by.


But goodness this man has led a pretty dull life. His grandfather was interesting, and then his father was a reverend (but quit when older), and then John Ames became a reverend. He never moved from Gilead, even when his parents and brother did. His first wife and child died. And he spent the next, what 30? 40? years just writing sermons and hanging out with his lifelong friend (a minister). The best parts of the book involve him describing to his adult-future-son what his 7-year-old self was doing at the time. His love for his son and wife—and the wonder he has that his wife married him and seems so satisfied—is apparent. But most of the rest of the story is him worrying about what he should have done in the past, or worrying about what he should do now.


And he knows this himself, "I have been looking through these pages, and I realize that for some time I have mainly been worrying to myself, when my intention from the beginning was to speak to you." (202)


If this was not a Pulitzer winner, I would have abandoned it. It's not bad, exactly, just very very dull.