Sunday, January 16, 2011


I haven't had a chance to finish my review of Home yet, but this is one of the most beautiful paragraphs of writing I've ever read. The novel has built up, over 280 pages, to this moment of utter melancholy. Glory's father, an ageing minister, is succumbing to Alzheimer's or something similar. Her brother, a man out of place in this world, is preparing to take his leave once more. Glory is resigning herself to a life of quiet capitulation. It is stunning:

Glory was aware suddenly that the weariness of the night and day had overwhelmed her, and her hope of comforting had not had anything to do with the way things really happen in the world. Her fateher was crouched in his chair, with this chin almost in his plate, drowsing and speaking from what she could only hope was a dream, and her brother was withdrawing into utter resignation, as if the old incandenscence had consumed him before it flickered out. But he brought her a tea towel for her tears, and then he helped his father to his room.

Robinson's writing is a search for redemption. That is why I'm drawn to it, and why I hate it and love it at the same time, in the same way that Flannery O'Connor's writing simultaneously mesmerises and appalls me, the same way that I throw Cormac McCarthy across the room and immediately pick it up again. There is something horrific in this Augustinian obsession with sin and guilt, with the need to assauge that guilt, reconcile yourself to it. There is something comic about the way, in Christian faith, it seems always to resolve itself into denunciation of lust and fear of sex. But to dismiss it for its failings is to overlook its depths. Marilynne Robinson reaches into the depths.

No comments: