A Masterpiece Aug 23, 2009
Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead" is a beautiful, surprising work. The novel's structure is that of a letter written by an aging rural pastor to his young son. He knows he will be passing away before his son grows up, and wishes to write him his "begats," all those things which he would have imparted to his son as he grew up, had he lived. Throughout the novel, the narrator discusses his family's somewhat fraught political and religious history, and the schisms between fathers and sons that preceded him. Through these stories he tries his best to impart a sense of his faith and love to his young son, whom he holds so dear.
However, sepulchral this is not. This is a rumination on joy, faith, and recognizing the sweet beauty of living. Savor the words in this novel rather than devouring or rushing through them. Give yourself the time and opportunity to be moved by Robinson's masterly depiction of real, pulsing, beating-in-the-arteries humanity. I am very glad that I did, because it's a rare book that can impart both a visceral sense of calm and a churning impulse to experience life.