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Anyone who is a regular visitor to this site (no one) would notice I’ve been gone a while and that July 6 brings a small swarm of pieces. Out of the house, away from the computer that holds the iWeb software. I know I could set it up to work on another computer, but sometimes it’s all too much, especially since we were having our floors sanded and were uprooted for a time. However, I didn’t quite reading, so here’s the first take on my off-site activities:

Well, here I go again, parting company with most everyone else. Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead hauled in a Pulitzer in 2005, so it must redemptive qualities of some sort. How can all those literati be wrong? Maybe they can’t, but I would have been a dissenting voice on that committee. Which may be why I wasn’t invited to be on the committee. As far as I got (about fifty pages) the book is a putative letter from a near-death, small town, Iowa preacher to his young son. Robinson uses this device to create a fictional memoir/autobiography full of reminiscences of family and advice for his offspring.

I find the whole thing mawkish and sentimental. Reminds me of Spoon River Anthology, and not in a good way. Wendell Berry pulls this kind of thing off because characters like Jayber Crow live with an emotional and intellectual intensity that belies their outward simplicity. The tension between the inner complexity and exterior plainness gives a texture and depth which I just didn’t see in Gilead.

This is the second or third book I’ve quit on this year. Good or bad trend? Don’t know. But there are so many out there . . .

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