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09 October 2006

Current reading....

Although I haven't been doing much blogging for the last week or so, I have been reading. I'm making steady progress through Willa Cather's My Antonia. It was my reading group's pick this month. Although we already met to discuss it, I still intend on finishing it.

At the same time, I'm reading Marilynne Robinson's Gilead for another book discussion group. I have about 80 pages left before tomorrow's discussion, so I hope I get it finished.

Although it is coincidental that I'm reading these two books at the same time, I'm enjoying that the locale for both is the Great Plains. It's interesting to see how each writer describes the land.

Gilead captured my attention in the first few sentences. Here is an excerpt from the first paragraph, as the aging and dying narrator begins drafting a letter to his young son to be read when he reaches adulthood:

You reached up and put your fingers on my lips and gave me that look I never in my life saw on any other face besides your mother's. It's a kind of furious pride, very passionate and stern. I'm always a little surprised to find my eyebrows unsinged after I've suffered one of those looks. I will miss them.

What gorgeous writing! I'm sure I'll have a lot to say about this after I've finished reading. Now, a little more than 1/2 through the book I'm perplexed as to why Robinson set it in 1956. Other than the easy ability for the narrator to write about his grandfather and the Civil War, setting the book in the mid-50's doesn't seem necessary. However, maybe there is something in the plot yet to be revealed that would only work in the 1950's. Another thing that I like about the book is that while the letter is often prosaic, there is a quality that indicates that it was written by an old person, especially when the narrator seemingly repeats things.

5 comments:

Dorothy W. said...

Glad you enjoying Gilead -- I loved that book. There's something so plain but eloquent in the way the main character wrote.

bloglily said...

I'm so glad to hear your thoughts about the book (and look forward to seeing what you think in the end). I liked Housekeeping very much, but wasn't sure about Gilead, possibly because I read a review that made it sound tedious. It sounds very much worth reading.

litlove said...

I'm interested to hear more on your reading of Gilead. I found it both slow-paced and a little tedious, and yet at the same time full of luminous grace and incredibly poignant. Like Bloglily I can't make up my mind about it, but I'm intrigued as to what others think.

Danielle said...

My Antonia is on my pile of TBRs as well! I am not sure about Gilead. For some reason it doesn't appeal to me, though I have heard great things about it.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Thanks for the comment. I also can't wait to hear what you thought of Gilead. I have Housekeeping and Gilead in one of my numerous TBR piles so I'm curious to know your opinion.